Bid to help struggling communities by designating them "assisted areas"

The Northern Echo: SHOT IN THE ARM: Michael Fallon SHOT IN THE ARM: Michael Fallon

SWATHES of the North-East were named as “assisted areas” yesterday – but they may not receive a penny of extra money.

Ministers said the status – lasting through to the end of the decade - could be a “shot in the arm” by attracting businesses and jobs to struggling communities.

Those areas would be “eligible to bid” for extra funding, including through the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), and for tax breaks to bring derelict properties back into use.

But they also admitted firms outside “assisted areas” are also entitled to put in applications and receive Government cash and tax cuts.

Furthermore, the Coalition was sharply criticised three years ago when it axed a key assistance scheme - called Grants for Business Investment (GBI) – for assisted areas.

Worse, Scotland and Wales will continue with specific grant aid to persuade firms to set up in their assisted areas – aid abolished in England.

The new map, published by the department for business, innovation and skills (BIS), includes extra wards in Darlington and western parts of County Durham.

As before, large parts of Hartlepool, Stockton, Middlesbrough, Redcar, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Newcastle are also included.

Michael Fallon, the business minister, said: “Assisted Area status can be a shot in the arm for growth and jobs across the UK.

“It makes local businesses eligible to bid for additional funding and support that can help them to create jobs, invest in new premises or machinery, develop and grow.”

But the small print of the announcement acknowledged: “Assisted Area status does not guarantee regional aid funding.

“Businesses in other parts of the country can still receive support, including RGF and AMSCI [Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative}, for a wide range of projects.”

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: “Awarding schemes with elaborate titles is meaningless without resources and finance.”

The four additional Darlington wards are Bank Top, Central, Eastbourne and Heighington and Coniscliffe – joining Faverdale, Lingfield, Middleton St George and Sadberge and Whessoe.

The GBI scheme dated back to the early Seventies under different names, including regional selective assistance – before it was axed in 2011.

Between 2004 and 2010, it was credited with pumping in £112m in grants to the North-East, creating or protecting 25,000 jobs.

Critics say the problem with the regional growth fund is that most successful applications are for £1m-plus, rather than for smaller amounts of investment aid.

Furthermore, the programme has been heavily oversubscribed and dogged by lengthy delays before the cash is handed over.

LIST OF WARDS IN ‘ASSISTED AREAS’.

County Durham: Annfield Plain, Aycliffe East, Aycliffe Northl, Aycliffe West, Barnard Castle East, Belmont, Bishop Auckland Town, Brandon, Burnopfield and Dipton, Chilton, Consett North, Coundon, Craghead and South Moor, Dawdon, Delves Lane and Consett South, Deneside, Durham South, Easington, Elvet, Evenwood, Ferryhill, Gilesgate, Horden, Leadgate and Medomsley, Murton, Neville's Cross, Pelton, Peterlee East, Peterlee West, Seaham, Sedgefield, Shildon East, Shildon West, Shotton, Spennymoor and Middlestone, Stanley, Tanfield, Trimdon, Tudhoe, West Auckland, Willington, Woodhouse Close.

Darlington: Bank Top, Central, Eastbourne, Faverdale, Heighington & Coniscliffe, Lingfield, Middleton St. George, Sadberge and Whessoe.

Hartlepool: Brus, Dyke House, Elwick, Fens, Foggy Furze, Greatham, Rossmere, St. Hilda, Seaton, Stranton.

Middlesbrough: Ayresome, Clairville, Coulby Newham, Gresham, North Ormesby and Brambles Farm, Middlehaven, Pallister, Stainton and Thornton, University.

Redcar & Cleveland: Brotton, Coatham, Dormanstown, Grangetown, Guisborough, Lockwood, Loftus, Longbeck, St Germain’s, Saltburn, Skelton, South Bank, Westworth.

Stockton-on-Tees: Billingham Central, Billingham East, Billingham North, Billingham South, Billingham West, Bishopsgarth & Elm Tree, Eaglescliffe, Fairfield, Grangefield, Hardwick, Hartburn, Mandale & Victoria, Newtown, Northern Parishes, Norton North, Norton South, Norton West, Oarkfield & Oxbridge, Roseworth, Stainsby Hill, Stockton Town Centre, Village, Western Parishes

Comments (3)

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9:23am Thu 1 May 14

Ron Carter-Bonsteel says...

Living in the Middlehaven ward and before that Thorntree Governments and the Council wasted money on these areas and did not improve the plight of its people at all. Most money is spent on children in the care system running into millions with families addicted to drugs and alcohol. Grants were awarded by Governments and given to the Council and they decided were to spend it?
Basically it was jobs for the Council boys and girls but estates like Thorntree have seen no investment as most of the 16 deprived estates out of 23.
Most have lived in a time-warp of deprivation, low aspirations no jobs and labelled scrounge. I am very proud of our estates and the great people who live on them but there is a minority on estates who are destroying them with criminal behaviour. For me the people are second to none and governments and others can label them all they want but to me people need a hand up not a hand out. Just my opinion.
Living in the Middlehaven ward and before that Thorntree Governments and the Council wasted money on these areas and did not improve the plight of its people at all. Most money is spent on children in the care system running into millions with families addicted to drugs and alcohol. Grants were awarded by Governments and given to the Council and they decided were to spend it? Basically it was jobs for the Council boys and girls but estates like Thorntree have seen no investment as most of the 16 deprived estates out of 23. Most have lived in a time-warp of deprivation, low aspirations no jobs and labelled scrounge. I am very proud of our estates and the great people who live on them but there is a minority on estates who are destroying them with criminal behaviour. For me the people are second to none and governments and others can label them all they want but to me people need a hand up not a hand out. Just my opinion. Ron Carter-Bonsteel
  • Score: 0

9:28am Thu 1 May 14

David Lacey says...

And very well said sir.
And very well said sir. David Lacey
  • Score: -2

11:31am Thu 1 May 14

John Durham says...

The government seem determined to go back to old regional development policies from the 1980s and 1990s despite the fact they didn't work then.
But there is little point creating 'assisted areas' and then doing nothing in reality to 'assist' them.
The government has, in fact, reduced regional support through this parliament and the result is clear - a two-speed economy with an over-booming South East and massive areas of deprivation, unemployment and poverty in areas like the North East.
Just like the Royal Mail sell-off its hard not to believe that the government are simply looking after their 'friends' and leaving the rest of the country to rot.
The government seem determined to go back to old regional development policies from the 1980s and 1990s despite the fact they didn't work then. But there is little point creating 'assisted areas' and then doing nothing in reality to 'assist' them. The government has, in fact, reduced regional support through this parliament and the result is clear - a two-speed economy with an over-booming South East and massive areas of deprivation, unemployment and poverty in areas like the North East. Just like the Royal Mail sell-off its hard not to believe that the government are simply looking after their 'friends' and leaving the rest of the country to rot. John Durham
  • Score: 6

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