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Lord Heseltine to chair approval panel for £1bn Regional Growth Fund

The new Panel will consider proposals for funding and recommend to Ministers which projects should be taken forward. Sir Ian Wrigglesworth will…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The new Panel will consider proposals for funding and recommend to Ministers which projects should be taken forward. Sir Ian Wrigglesworth will be Deputy Chair.

The Regional Growth Fund has been set up to provide support for projects that offer significant potential for sustainable economic growth and can create new private sector employment. It will particularly help areas and communities currently highly-reliant on public sector employment make the transition to private sector led growth and prosperity.

The fund was announced at Budget and will operate over two years. In a consultation published today, the Government is seeking views on how the fund should be designed to best meet the needs of areas and communities across England.

Launching the consultation, the Deputy Prime Minister said:

“The Regional Growth Fund is an innovative new mechanism to unleash the talent and drive that will help get the country back on its feet.

“Now is the moment to rebalance our economy so it is sustainable and fair. Instead of following a broken model of unbalanced growth that put the financial sector first, we must help growing companies and entrepreneurs thrive, bringing jobs and prosperity to their communities. And as we take action to reduce public spending and bring down our towering deficit, supporting places that have become overly reliant on public sector employment must be a priority.

“We’re asking people to help us design this fund so we can be sure the investment will make a real difference. I am delighted that Michael Heseltine and Ian Wrigglesworth will be Chair and Deputy Chair of the Approval Panel. They have experience and authority to drive this forward and both are, like this Government, utterly committed to ensuring the parts of the country with the greatest need share in the prosperity of the future.”

Lord Heseltine said:

“I am delighted to have been asked to help with this exciting project. It builds on the experiences I’ve had in helping people in deprived areas to help themselves and their communities achieve aspirations that, without schemes of this sort, might be impossible.

“This is about local people, local initiatives and local success in areas where the inevitable cuts will be most heavily felt.”

Business Secretary, Vince Cable said:

I’m delighted that Lord Heseltine and Sir Ian Wrigglesworth have agreed to lead the Approval Panel for this important initiative.

“The Regional Growth Fund demonstrates that England is open for business. It will support enterprise and incentivise the growth of private sector-led local economies; mobilizing private sector investment across the country and creating sustainable private sector jobs. And Michael and Ian’s experience and strategic oversight will help ensure it is a success.”

Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles said:

“Lord Heseltine is the perfect choice for Chair: his regeneration pedigree will be vital when identifying the projects that deserve Regional Growth Fund support.

“Local enterprise partnerships will be central to that by returning democratic accountability they will show how local businesses, local councils and communities - freed from bureaucratic hurdles - can work together to reopen and rebalance Britain’s economy.”

The Government is committed to replacing the Regional Development Agencies with local enterprise partnerships of elected authorities and businesses who can provide the strategic leadership and economic vision for their local area. To be effective, it is crucial that business works in equal partnership with civic leaders to drive real change in public service delivery and create a better business environment.

Local enterprise partnerships will play an important role in bringing together bids for the Regional Growth Fund, working with key partners such as universities. Private sector companies and other public-private partnerships will also be invited to bid independently for the fund.

Notes to editors

  1. The consultation can be accessed at: Responses should be sent to by 6September 2010. **

  1. The forthcoming White Paper on sub-national economic growth will set out more details on the Growth Fund as well as local enterprise partnerships.

  2. The consultation proposes that a proportion of the fund will be allocated on a transparent bidding basis. Proposals will be required to demonstrate how they will create new private sector jobs and how areas vulnerable to sector cuts will benefit. They will also need to prove that the proposal has financial backing from the private sector and that it fits with the economic priorities of the area as a whole.

  3. The fund will operate throughout England only, though the Devolved Administrations are encouraged to undertake similar action. The Government will also be discussing with the Mayor how the fund can be accessed in London, where arrangements are different.

  4. The fund will aim to respond to the different needs of specific local areas. Some areas will be most in need of investment in community schemes and skills programmes that help bring people back into the labour market. Other areas where there are significant barriers to growth may benefit more from capital investment, for instance in transport and housing. Many places also have substantial opportunities for growth in low-carbon and environmental sectors.

  5. Lord Heseltine was a Member of the Parliament in Britain from 1966 to 2001. He was a Cabinet Minister in various departments between 1979 and 1986 and between 1990 and 1997. He was Deputy Prime Minister from 1995 to 1997. He is founder and Chairman of the Haymarket Group, the largest privately owned publishing company in the UK. He has written books on Europe and more recently his political autobiography_, Life in the Jungle. _ Lord Heseltine is an enthusiastic gardener and has created an arboretum for over 3,000 different trees and shrubs.

  6. Sir Ian has been Chairman of the Port of Tyne since 2005. He manages his own property investment company, based in Gateshead. From 1995 to 2008 he was Chairman of UK Land Estates, one of the biggest property development and investment companies in the North East. He is a former Director of Tyne Tees Television and a number of other private and public companies. He was Chairman of the Northern CBI and founder Chairman of the Northern Business Forum. Sir Ian was MP for Teesside Thornaby and Stockton South between 1974 and 1987. In 8 he became the first national President of the Liberal Democrats. He was the founder Chairman of the Liberal Democrat Business Forum and is Chairman of the national Trustees of the Liberal Democrats.

  7. Wider membership of the Independent Approval Panel will be selected to include expertise in economic development and corporate finance and experience of scrutinising the value for money of proposals. A secretariat team from within Government will support the panel. The final decision on bids will be made jointly by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, drawing in relevant Ministerial colleagues where they have an interest.

  8. BIS’ online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See for more information.

Notes to Editors

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Published 23 July 2010