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Government's growth scheme is criticised by committee for not creating enough work
The failures of the Government’s job-creation scheme for the North are “nothing short of scandalous”, a report warns today.
The flagship Regional Growth Fund (RGF) comes in for its harshest criticism yet from a committee of MPs, because so few projects have “actually got off the ground”.
The inquiry, by the powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC), found that two years into the programme only £60 million of £1.4 billion allocated, or four per cent, had reached schemes.
Bradford’s £35 million growth zone for the city centre, which aims to offer business rate relief in an effort to boost jobs, is still awaiting sign off from Government.
Bradford Council confirmed it has gone through the necessary processes to ensure everything in its business case is credible and is with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It is hoped sign off will be given in October.
The plan involves an investment of £17.2m from Bradford Council and £17.6m from the Government through the RGF.
The strategy is expected to lead to 2,800 jobs in retail and construction, of which 2,500 are through the Westfield shopping centre development.
Today’s report has criticised the time it is taking for projects to get up and running after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted “it is all about jobs, jobs, jobs”.
Margaret Hodge, the PAC’s Labour chairman, said: “Given the dire state of the economy, it is nothing short of scandalous that so few projects funded by the Regional Growth Fund have actually got off the ground.
“Some two years into the programme, of the £1.4bn allocated, only £60m have reached front-line projects. It is unclear what is being done to make sure that money is not wasted, but spent on creating real jobs.”
Government has admitted nationally only 2,442 new jobs had been delivered, while another 2,762 existing jobs had been protected – compared with a target of 36,800 over the lifetime of the projects.
The fund was set up in June 2010 to support projects with the potential to deliver economic growth and additional, sustainable private-sector jobs, particularly in areas that rely more on the public sector for employment.