RDA resources to be 'rebalanced' towards North, says Cable

Future resources for regional economic development will be funnelled towards the North-East, North-West, Yorkshire & Humber and the West Midlands, business secretary Vince Cable has said.

Speaking yesterday following his first major speech as business secretary, Cable said that the new Government was "looking at the future" of the regional development agencies (RDAs) and that business minister Mark Prisk would "bring forward new legislation on that".

Cable said that the coalition government would "give emphasis to areas with the most problems – the North-East, North-West, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands".

He said: "So, the functions of RDAs will change and the emphasis of future resources will be rebalanced towards these areas."

Cable also suggested that the RDAs would be stripped of their trade promotion function. He said: "Trade promotion is currently highly fragmented and has been distributed via the RDA network. We will bring that together under one roof and consolidate into UK Trade & Industry."

Writing on his blog, Dermot Finch, chief executive of think-tank Centre for Cities, said that Cable’s comments suggested that Local Enterprise Partnerships, which are to replace RDAs, would carry out "different and maybe fewer functions" than the agencies.

He said that another part of the transition from RDAs to LEPs will be smaller budgets, with resources focused on partnerships in the North-East, North-West, Yorkshire & Humber, and the West Midlands. "So an LEP in the South-Eat will have less cash than one in the North-East," he wrote.

Earlier, Cable had answered questions from MPs on the future of RDAs during a Commons debate.

He said that the RDAs would be "refocused and made more effective". "There will be parts of the country … where we will have a substantial cutback in RDAs," he added.

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