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The Regional Growth Fund is a £2.4b (€3.04b) fund that businesses across England can apply to for grants and loans from 2011 to 2015. It supports projects and programmes that lever private sector investment creating economic growth and sustainable employment. It aims particularly to help those areas and communities currently dependent on the public sector to make the transition to sustainable private sector led growth and prosperity.
Key points of the measure are:
There is a report by the National Audit Office that provides an executive summary and recommendations for future rounds. In addition BIS published a 10-pages of case studies of RGF projects.
The recommendations from National Audit Office are:
a) The Secretariat used standardised appraisal techniques to generate useful information to help Ministers choose between competing bids. Departments, particularly the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, should embed good practices from the Fund’s project appraisal methods more widely.
b) Applying tighter controls over value for money could improve the Fund’s cost-effectiveness and allow officials to get projects up and running more quickly.
c) Due diligence requires bidders to demonstrate their fitness as recipients of the Fund to an independent reviewer. In future rounds of the Fund – and future programmes where appropriate – officials should explore ways to retain greater control of the due diligence process, where this could deliver sufficient assurance more efficiently.
d) The Fund did not have sufficient administrative resources to carry out all the necessary tasks quickly.
e) Robust monitoring and evaluation will be required to validate the number of jobs created by the Fund.