Nick Clegg has announced that the amount of cash on offer in the first round of the £1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund may be increased and that the fund's second round will open on the 12th of April.
The deputy Prime Ministers statement follows comments made last week by Lord Shipley, a member of the RGF independent advisory panel, who said that the second round of the fund would not open until mid-autumn.
Clegg said that ministers are considering the amount of money available in the first round due to the large number of high quality bids the Government has received to date.
Clegg – along with Prime Minister David Cameron, business secretary Vince Cable and communities secretary Eric Pickles – were speaking at the first official meeting of approved public-private local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) on Monday 7th March.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, confirmed that an increase may be available in the first bidding round due to the "huge demand".
She said: "It will depend entirely on the panel’s recommendations and what ministers decide, but if the value of the first round needs to be increased then flexibilities will be put in place to allow this. The change is unlikely to affect the second round, which is going to be larger than the first. No bids will be ‘shunted’ from one round to another. Any bid that is unsuccessful this time round will be invited to resubmit their bid to the second round."
The fund is intended to rebalance local economies overly dependent on public sector jobs. So far around £250 million has been made available in the first round of the RGF. However, there have been to date 464 round one bids totalling over £2.7 billion.