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Hewitt announces plans for regional targets for new businesses, job opportunities and skills

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More freedom on how they use their money will help Development Agencies tackle inequalities within as well as between regions

dtiIn order to ensure that every region makes progress on a range of outcome targets, England’s Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) are to agree specific milestones on the creation and attraction of new businesses, increasing employment and educational opportunities, and the re-use of ‘brownfield’ ex-industrial land, <a href-http://www.dti.gov.uk target=_blank>Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said today.

Speaking at a meeting with Regional Development Agency Chairs, Ms Hewitt said the RDAs’ top priority is to provide strategic leadership to promote economic development, enterprise and regeneration in each of their regions, and to tackle economic differences within as well as between different regions.

In the last Spending Review the Government announced extra resources and wide financial freedoms for RDAs. In return, the Government expects the RDAs to deliver against challenging outcome targets which will apply from April 2002.

Specific milestones will cover:

  • business performance – RDAs will be asked to support the creation and attraction of an agreed number of new businesses in their area;
  • employment opportunities – RDAs will be asked to support the creation or safeguarding of an agreed number of jobs in their area;
  • education and skills – RDAs will be asked to enable an agreed number of people in their area to learn new skills; and,
  • brownfield land – RDAs will be asked to remediate and/or recycle an agreed number of hectares of brownfield land in their area.

Each Development Agency will also be asked to work strategically with other regional and local bodies to improve economic performance, and will agree additional milestones appropriate to circumstances in their region with the Government.

It is expected that details of the milestones for each RDA will be issued in the Autumn.

Announcing the system of targets Ms Hewitt said:

“I am delighted that RDAs will now be working even more closely with DTI.

“Their top priority must be providing strategic leadership to promote economic development, enterprise and investment in their regions.

“Strong, sustainable economic development is based on the principle of opportunity for all. So a key part of the RDAs’ role is ensuring that regeneration of our most disadvantaged communities is led by economic development, building people’s skills and employablity, promoting enterprise, and encouraging business growth and investment.”

Allan Willett, chair of the South East England Development Agency and speaking on behalf of all the RDA Chairs, said:

“I warmly welcome the Secretary of State’s message to the RDAs, especially her endorsement of our strategic role in regional economic development and its relevance to the government’s wider objectives for sustainable economic growth and tackling the problems of deprived areas.”

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