Osborne pledges billions for regional growth plan

Chancellor George Osborne is to pledge billions of pounds to put in place proposals by Lord Heseltine which have been designed to stimulate regional growth.

George OsborneHeseltine made 89 recommendations, of which Osborne is expected to act on 81. Although the report requested a central pot of £12.25bn to promote regional economic growth, the government is expected to set aside between a quarter and a half of that figure.

The No Stone Unturned proposals will cover three main areas – skills, but not apprenticeships, housing and transport. The focus will be on towns and cities outside of the capital.

Local Enterprise Partnerships, such as the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership chaired by Edwin Booth, will be used to decide the allocation of funds.

Heseltine said that local infrastructure, worth £14.8bn until the end of the current spending period in 2015, employment services, business support services and innovation and commercialisation should all be covered.

Heseltine said: “I hope this report provides further reassurance to the chancellor that this approach is one that can unlock the potential of the regions and bring about a step-change in the performance of the UK economy.”

Business secretary Vince Cable said: "The plans will boost the UK's competitiveness nationally and drive local growth through deals that we will be negotiating with every Local Enterprise Partnership.

"In line with Lord Heseltine's report, we have also announced a package of wider support that is a big vote of confidence for our industrial strategy, particularly the aerospace, automotive and agri- technology sectors.

"This support not only gives businesses certainty, but shows the government is determined to back those sectors where Britain can deliver and compete on a global scale in partnership with industry." George Osborne will reveal full details in his budget announcement on Wednesday.