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Employment: East of England

Volume 477: debated on Friday 13 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he is taking to increase the number and improve the retention of jobs in the East of England; and if he will make a statement. (209093)

As part of the Government’s wider strategy on job creation and retention in the East of England, the Regional Development Agency, EEDA is charged with developing a strategic vision for the region. EEDA is currently completing a review of the region’s economic strategy (RES) and this will provide the basis for co-ordinated action to bring about sustainable improvements in the region’s economic performance and meet its aspirations to increase the overall employment rate to 80 per cent. by 2031.

To support the delivery of this ambition, EEDA has developed a number of programmes which contribute to the achievement of higher employment levels by:

Encouraging new business growth and improving the survivability of small and medium sized businesses by providing business support services through Business Link and the Manufacturing Advisory Service. EEDA is planning to boost the level of specialist business support services available in the coming year with the introduction of new services delivering specialist ICT, design and innovation advice.

Providing a range of specialist support activities to attract mobile foreign direct investment to the region through EEDA’s sister organisation, East of England International and to provide export advice to companies looking to compete in overseas markets.

Providing financial help in the form of grants and loans to support SME growth throughout the East of England.

Improving the employability of individuals unable to participate in the region’s economy and increasing the number of employment opportunities available through EEDA’s Economic Participation programme.

Supporting the development of the region’s science base by investing in the development of high quality science parks and enterprise hubs.

The Chancellor’s pre Budget report in 2007 also enabled RDAs to take lead responsibility for co-ordinating and managing the response to industrial crises or natural disasters which have the potential to create substantial economic shocks and impact severely on business.

EEDA’s work will ensure the continued and improved prosperity of the East of England including increasing the number of jobs, managing the changing structure of jobs (a greater proportion of jobs requiring more skilled labour), and retaining the number of jobs.