Round two of Regional Growth Fund must be quick

The Government has announced the second round of its £1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund, but the support must be delivered swiftly, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has said.

The second round of investment, which will pump £950 million into local businesses to kick-start regional growth, will help create and safeguard more than 200,000 jobs across England, according to the Government.

In total the fund, which includes private sector investment, has pledged support to 119 bids from businesses and local partnerships, with ongoing discussions with a further 10 bidders about their projects.

But the speed at which the funding is delivered will be fundamental to the Fund's success, says the BCC. John Longworth, director general at the BCC said: "The projects supported by the fund must be started as soon as possible. While due diligence has to play an important role, it must not drag on if we're to see any real, tangible benefits."

But the Fund on its own is not enough to stimulate business growth, Longworth adds: "In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor must introduce further measures that will deliver confidence to businesses, in particular small- and medium-sized companies. The government must develop a strategy that privileges infrastructure development, reduces red tape, and provides additional trade finance support to help firms export. Only then will companies have the confidence to expand, invest and create jobs, and get the UK's recovery back on track."