RGF week: top 10 tips
Today marks the start of official Regional Growth Fund week, with Cameron announcing today loads of money for really good things which will make us a great country again after years of Labour’s infrastructure deficit.
After all, 23 press releases and two responses in PMQs was never going to suffice. Tomorrow there’s a parliamentary debate on it, called by Angela Smith (Lab), who will probably just moan, and there may also be the odd further revelation about the glorious RGF from hereabouts later in the week.
So we thought we’d start the week with a quick top 10 facts you need to know to engage fully in the RGF fun.
1) The RGF is £1.4bn. That’s quite a few quid, but only one third of the Regional Development Agency (RDA) funding that the Coalition scrapped. That’s ok, though, because Labour’s plan wasn’t as good, with it’s proven capacity to lever in £4.50 private investment for every £1 public (£6.40: £1) taking into account future benefits). The Coalition’s going to make it £6 for ever £1, honest, which is probably nearly three times as good as Labour.
2) The RGF was announced in June 2010. Then in October 2010. And in April 2011. And now now, as part of the Coalition’s Plan A, erm B. Anyway, as part of a plan. Anyway, it’s Labour’s fault.
3) The RGF is Regional. As in Regional Development Agencies. But no-one from the Regions decides where the money goes, like they used to with the RDAs. Now it’s decided in London. Centrally. Central is the new Regional, anyway.
4) The Coalition says loads of jobs will be created/safeguarded, directly and indirectly. It’s all a bit confusing but easy to make up some numbers. The application forms give people receiving money until 2020/21 to make some numbers up. Ten years. If anyone’s still there to receive the email.
5) One approved RGF project involves the government taking shares in businesses in return for investment, alongside venture capitalists. This used to be called nationalisation, but apparently isn’t now.
6) The same approved project is run by Capital for Enterprise Ltd. (CfEL) . CfEL is 100% owned by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), who also manage the fund. So BIS is funding BIS. It’s not known if BIS has yet completed due diligence tests on BIS yet.
7) One successful application, from Nortcliffe Media (owned by the Daily Mail group), was personally requested for by Lord Heseltine. He is Chair of the RGF Independent Advisory Board, which advises ministers what applications to approve. There is absolutely no suggestion at all, even a bit, that a rightwing press group being funded for a bid personally requested by Lord Heseltine is at all questionable. The Editor of the paper running the project may well have said ”Primarily it is to cement the Western Morning News within the community”, but he probably meant it was all about creating jobs in cement manufacture, or something.
8) Another application, from Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, is planning to spend most of the money on a plan to lengthen the airport runway. According to the application, most of the money will be spent the scheme occur from 2013/14, the year after the RGF has officially finished. This is ok, because planning issues take a really long time, which is Labour’s fault.
9) One of the Prince of Wales’s charities was awarded £1.7 million. The project also depends on funding. It’s actually a really good-looking project (no really, it is – well done to Stoke Council on pushing it). There was never any question of the Prince having undue political influence, and it would be shocking to suggest such.
10) Skelmersdale, in Northern England was designated a ‘new town’ 50 years ago this year, but the centre never got built. Its application for funding to gap fund a ’shovel ready’ project to develop a town centre got refused in Round 1. The Tory Council couldn’t be bothered with a Round 2 application. Perhaps they’d been told not to bother. Anyway, who needs a town centre? Kids would probably just riot in it anyway. Because of Labour.