Growing Places Fund launch is admission scrapping RDAs was wrong

Hilary BennCommenting on the launch of the Growing Places Fund, Hilary Benn, Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, said:

"This announcement is a huge admission from the Tory-led government that abolishing the regional development agencies (RDAs) and the £1.4 billion of funding they received each year was a mistake.

"If this funding is simply to help the new local enterprise partnerships do some of the work that was previously done by the RDAs unlocking and coordinating investment projects, but with much less funding, then people will feel short-changed.

"And given this Conservative-led government’s history of failure to get money to businesses that need it through the other schemes they’ve announced and reannounced, they should make sure that this time the money speedily gets to the local authorities, businesses and entrepreneurs who will be at the heart of the economic recovery the country desperately needs.

"With our economy flatlining for the last year and unemployment at a 17 year high what we really need is a plan for jobs and growth, like the five point plan Labour has set out.!

Chuka Umunna , Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills said:

"The government is holding local areas and regions back at a critical time for the economy.

"Ministers have failed to give Local Enterprise Partnerships the tools they need to drive regional growth and job creation. Labour called at the start of the year for LEP start up costs to be covered, for the RDA asset fire sale to be halted and for LEPs to have access to be given sufficient funds.

"On all these counts, Ministers have been forced to back down and back Labour’s plan.

"In their rushed abolition of the Regional Development Agencies, the Government failed to produce any real transition plan. Now, perhaps, they are realising the error of their ways."