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The Regional Growth Fund (Fifth Report of Session 2012-13 - Report, Together With Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence)

The Regional Growth Fund (Fifth Report of Session 2012-13 - Report, Together With Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence)

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The Government established the Regional Growth Fund 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. GBP1.4 billion was allocated during 2011. The Permanent Secretary for the Department for Communities and Local Government has overall accountability and the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills has ministerial accountability. A further GBP1 billion has been made available for future rounds, for which accountability is likely to be shared between the Accounting Officers of the CLG and BIS. The Committee was highly disappointed to find that so few final approvals had been given and so few projects had actually started. Of the GBP470 million so far paid out by Government, GBP364 million has been parked with intermediary bodies via endowments and a further GBP57 million paid to other intermediaries. Only GBP60 million has been spent on front-line projects. As a result only 5,200 jobs can be claimed as having been created or safeguarded against targets of 36,800 over the lifetime of these projects. The Fund's threshold for acceptable value for money was far too low. Nor was it clear that the departments took sufficient account of local expertise in deciding which projects would most benefit particular areas. Despite decades of experience in delivering similar programmes, BIS and CLG still do not know what works best in fostering private sector growth. Witnesses had not prepared plans on how they will evaluate whether the Fund actually delivers the jobs and growth predicted