Round 5 of the Regional Growth Fund now open. Bid for share of £300 million

A new round of the Regional Growth Fund opened 11th October as the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called on businesses across the country to bid for a share of the £300 million cash pot.

The Deputy Prime Minister praised ‘home grown and British-based businesses’ for their crucial role in Britain’s economic recovery.

So far £2.6 billion from the first four rounds of the Regional Growth Fund has supported over 400 projects and programmes, which will create and safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs over the long-term and stimulate £14.7 billion of private sector investment.

Round 5 will be open to private sector bidders seeking £1 million or more. The government is calling for companies planning high quality projects that will generate significant private sector investment and sustainable jobs. Businesses will be able to submit their bids until noon on 9 December.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“This fund has so far helped over 400 projects and over 3,000 SMEs across the country to boost our economy – expanding, improving, innovating and helping secure our economic recovery.

“The economic recovery is starting to bloom – we’re seeing very encouraging signs that we are turning a crucial corner on our road to recovery. Home-grown and British-based businesses are leading that charge for a stronger economy. The Regional Growth Fund is a helping hand from the government, but I pay tribute to the people who are working hard to fuel our recovery.

“My message to businesses in every region is clear – if you’ve got a project that needs a boost, bid for cash from the Regional Growth Fund.”

To help bidders on their applications, road shows and expression of interest days will be held throughout the country from today to provide advice on how to make a successful bid. These will be in the following locations:

  • 11 Oct – Newcastle, North East (launch event)
  • 14 Oct – Loughborough, East Midlands
  • 25 Oct – Huddersfield, Yorkshire and Humber
  • 05 Nov – Plymouth, South West
  • 13 Nov – Liverpool, North West
  • 14 Nov – Birmingham, West Midlands

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

“Round 5 requires minimum bids of £1 million but smaller bids are also supported by the fund through programmes. That is why I am making sure that local and national programmes are available to small to medium-sized businesses from as little as £5,000 in some areas all the way up to £1 million. Since the Fund started, over 3,000 grants have been given to SMEs through programmes.

“We expect there will be stiff competition, so companies should take time over their application and demonstrate the benefits that support will bring. We want more businesses to benefit so that they can achieve their ambitions.”

Round 6 of the Regional Growth Fund will be launched in the summer of 2014 so that any companies who will not be ready to apply by December can start planning for applications in 2014.

Further information

1. The Regional Growth Fund is a flexible and competitive fund operating across England. It supports projects and programmes that are using private sector investment to create economic growth and sustainable employment.

2. Round 5 of the Regional Growth Fund opens on October 11 and will close to applications on 9 December at noon. Bids will be appraised as quickly as possible.

3. For more information, and further details of the expression of interest events in your areas please go to or email  

4. Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will no longer be required to make separate bids to the Regional Growth Fund. In September 2013, BIS announced it will be making available an extra £100m for the Local Growth Fund in the period 2015-2017. This will provide extra flexibility to support priorities that LEPs will identify in their Strategic Economic Plans.

5. LEPs still have an important role to play in RGF Round 5 by supporting or endorsing private sector bids they feel will help them achieve their priorities for economic growth as well as delivering existing programmes.

Nice summary of state of LEPland from @39LEPs Alex Pratt Chair @BTVLEP

Cookin’ in LEPland

During the summer, LEP kitchens have been cooking up EU Strategic Plans and blending local Growth Deals, the catalysts that should help us win the global economic race. Blockages are being identified that need help from Whitehall to be cleared away, so growth can be released and the jobs can flow. See cartoon history >

Reasons to be Cheerful (part 2)

UKTI and LEPS: The PM has called for closer links between UKTI and LEPs in our shared ambition to win the global economic race. The 39 LEPs are therefore now actively bringing UKTI, TSB and others into a closer relationship with the LEP Chairs.

Lighter Government

Now that times are tough we surely need more efficient, more aligned, more collaborative, more effective Government. This places a spotlight on those LEPs where every Local Authority is not fully committed to a home LEP. 16 of the 39 LEPs have overlapping areas. Should we not avoid too many cooks occupying the economic kitchen

Social enterprises out-performing traditional SMEs – How can LEPs best leverage the growth potential?

Business Secretary Vince Cable will speak at the launch of The People’s Business report today in Westminster. 

Tuesday 9 July 2013 READ REPORT

New figures published today in The People’s Business report reveal a thriving social enterprise sector in the UK that is attracting a wave of entrepreneurs. UK-wide research [1] carried out for The People’s Business shows that social enterprise has three-times the start-up rate of the mainstream SME sector [2]. Close to a third of all social enterprises are three years old or younger.

The report, released by Social Enterprise UK and supported by The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, says that social enterprises are much more likely to be led by women than mainstream businesses. Thirty eight per cent of social enterprises have a female chief executive, compared with 19% of SMEs, and 3% of FTSE 100 companies [3].

The figures show that people are gravitating from mainstream business to carve out a career in social enterprise. More people are moving from the private sector than any other sector to work in social enterprise (35%, compared with 33% from the public sector and 17% from charities and the voluntary sector).

The report also reveals a promisingly diverse sector. Almost a quarter (23%) of social enterprises are run by younger leaders aged 25-44, while one in ten (13%) are led by ‘silverpreneurs’ – people over the age of 65. And social enterprises are twice as likely as mainstream SMEs to be led by someone with a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background.

There are currently 70,000 social enterprises in the UK contributing £18.5 billion to the UK economy and employing almost a million people [4]. These businesses with a social mission include The Big Issue, Pants to Poverty, Belu Water and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen.

Social enterprises out-performing traditional SMEs

Findings in The People’s Business point to social enterprises out-performing mainstream businesses. In the last 12 months, 38% of social enterprises surveyed saw an increase in their turnover compared with 29% of SMEs. More than half of social enterprises (56%) developed a new product or service, compared with 43% of SMEs. Two-thirds (63%) of social enterprises expect their turnover to increase in the next two to three years, almost double the number of SMEs (37%).

Creating jobs and tackling deprivation in local communities

The research shows that social enterprises are creating jobs and stimulating local economies where they’re needed most. More than a third (38%) of all social enterprises operate in the UK’s most deprived communities, compared to 12% of traditional SMEs – and half of social enterprises (52%) actively employ people who are disadvantaged in the labour market, including ex-offenders, people with disabilities and the long-term unemployed.

The majority of social enterprises (57%) draw 100% of their workforce from the local areas in which they operate, and a greater number of social enterprises are planning to grow their staff teams over the next 12 months than two years ago (33% expect to employ more people, compared to 26% in 2011).

Access to finance is main barrier to growth

Social enterprises say that access to finance is their single biggest barrier to growth and sustainability. Hungry for finance, twice as many social enterprises as SMEs sought capital in the past 12 months (48% compared with 24%). The average sum applied for by social enterprises was £58,000, suggesting a need for smaller-scale lending than is currently available to the sector from social investment sources.

In 2011, just 8% of social enterprises cited the economic climate as a barrier to growth – in 2013 this figure has quadrupled to 32%, the second biggest barrier for social enterprises to grow and become sustainable.

For social enterprises who mainly trade with the public sector, there has been an increase in the number who report prohibitive public sector commissioning and procurement as a major barrier to growth and sustainability. In 2013 the figure stands at 34%, up from 25% in 2011. That this situation has worsened rather than improved since the last survey should be of concern for policy-makers, says Social Enterprise UK.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including that:

  • Government should implement the Public Services (Social Value) Act to its full effect to public service markets with genuine plural provision in which smaller social enterprises can compete.
  • Policymakers and investors should recognise that grants and ‘softer’ social investment (which is patient and risky) remain critical parts of the mix for many social enterprises, and design financial products and support programmes to reflect this.

Worcs LEP welcomes £4.9m investment in Hoobrook Link Road Project @wlep @thelepnetwork

Worcestershire LEP welcomes the announcement from the Department for Transport that £4.9 m has been awarded from its ‘Pinch Point’ fund to support the second phase of the Hoobrook Link Road development in Kidderminster.

The money will be used towards  the completion of the Link Road between the Stourport Road and the Worcester Road around Kidderminster.  This will open up the South Kidderminster Enterprise Park  as well as alleviating a local ‘pinch point’ comprising several roads with serious traffic congestion, particularly at peak times, and it will release further large areas of land for housing and employment development.

Peter Pawsey, Executive Chair at Worcestershire LEP, said: “One of the key objectives of Worcestershire LEP is to support the delivery of key transport infrastructure projects.  The Hoobrook Link Road will significantly relieve congestion on the road systems, improve access to the site and thereby facilitate the regeneration of this area.  It will help breath new life into Kidderminster.“

“Where next for LEPs?” – new report by Smith Institute & RSA 11 June 2013.

Against the backdrop of low growth and prolonged austerity
the LEPs face a formidable challenge, especially in places where
structural unemployment is already a problem. However, as
the perspectives in this monograph demonstrate the 39 LEPs,
although arguably still in their infancy, are working hard to find
local solutions which draw in extra investment and utilise local
skills and expertise…….

Please follow Link to full document

Click to access Where%20next%20for%20Local%20Enterprise%20Partnerships%20%282%29.pdf


New report on Skills and Employment by APPG on Local Growth, LEPs and Enterprise Zones

APPG on Local Growth, #LEPs and Enterprise Zones report on Skills and Employment is due to be posted PM today electronically.  The hard copy was issued yesterday ay a well attended launch reception in Soho with James Morris MP and Skills Minister Matthew Hancock MP. There are some interesting and sensible recommendations. For a sneek preview of summary please follow these links


Rising to the challenge: how LEPs can deliver local growth strategies Call for evidence

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Growth, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Enterprise Zones, chaired by Caroline Dinenage MP and James Morris MP, is announcing a call for evidence on the leadership capacity of Local Enterprise Partnerships. Click title link for more info.…/appg-local-growth-ris…