31st October 2011
This money – the second round of the government's regional growth fund – will support 119 bids from businesses and local partnerships with projects to expand their operations.
The government investment is expected to support nearly £6billion of private investment in the successful projects, said Clegg.
But the pundits disagree whether the strategy is credible and indeed whether there is now a split in coalition thinking.
For example, the Week columnist the Mole says there is no new money simply an announcement of where existing resources are allocated.
He writes :"It is not clear that Clegg's launch has any new money in it. He wasn't challenged enough over the croissants by Radio 4's lumbering Jim Naughtie. It seems the money is coming from the existing Development Fund which has already been announced. All we are getting today is how the money is being spent.
"But the Mole's nose is twitching. There is a distinct shift of emphasis going on. Clegg is clearly keen to be seen to be doing SOMETHING to kick start the economy today, while Cameron and Osborne are desperate to hold the line."
The Spectator's Frasier Nelson is deeply cynical about Government job creation.
"The tragedy is that his analysis of the problem was correct. Under Labour, he said, "in large parts of the country, which for far too long were over-reliant on handouts from Whitehall, so job-creation was down to decision-makers in Whitehall rather than to communities themselves." So, to remedy this, he's giving out, erm, a big handout from Whitehall. He's deciding which projects to allocate money to.
"No wonder that so much confusion surrounds the government's growth strategy. The government is sending out conflicting messages all the time. Osborne talks about tax cuts, while delivering tax increases. It says "there is no money left" while doubling the international aid budget. Clegg talks about the problem of the Man in Whitehall trying to direct regional economies, before going on to direct regional economies."
And the New Statesman George Eaton wades in with the Plan B advocate unsurprisingly criticising the scheme as not extensive and substantial enough.
"The government has ignored calls for an extra £5bn in capital spending, refusing to spend a penny more than the limits set out in the Spending Review. In fact, the Regional Growth Fund actually represents a cut in support for the regions – £1.4bn a year through the abolished Regional Development Agencies cut by two-thirds to £1.4bn over three years with the Regional Growth Fund.
So, despite our best efforts, the government has refused to adopt a plan B."
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