RDA small business transition loans top £28m

England's nine regional development agencies have so far made loans totalling £28 million under a scheme to help small businesses survive the downturn, according to new performance reports.

Annual performance reports for each RDA - published by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills - showed that 280 loans had been made as part of the Transition Loan Funds scheme, which were announced last November.

The reports also showed that the RDA-led Business Link service service had nationally helped more than 942,000 businesses in the last year.

Rosie Winterton, regional economic development minister, said the annual performance reports showed that the RDAs were playing "a key role at the frontline of our response to the global economic downturn".

Winterton also said the reports backed up an earlier independent PricewaterhouseCoopers evaluation that claimed RDAs generate at least £4.50 for their regional economy for every £1 they invest.

But Bob Neill, Conservative shadow local government minister, said the fact that the Government was "slashing back" RDAs' budgets to pay for housing initiatives "spoke volumes about the real lack of confidence in Whitehall in the ability of RDAs to deliver." 

He added: "The RDAs are too distant from local people and spread themselves too thinly, competing with themselves and duplicating the work of other agencies. Devolving down their funding to councils and local firms would do more to promote economic development and regeneration."






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