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Business: Yorkshire

Volume 481: debated on Monday 20 October 2008

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps the Government has taken to improve business development in (a) Leeds and (b) Yorkshire since 2000. (226395)

Since 2000 the Government have helped to ensure business success by promoting the creation and growth of business and a strong enterprise economy across all regions, ensuring that all Government Departments and agencies deliver better regulation for the private, public and third sectors and delivering free and fair markets, with greater competition, for businesses, consumers and employees.

Since 2000 the regional development agencies (RDAs) have been charged with stimulating the economic regeneration of the English regions through regional economic strategies.

The RDA for Yorkshire and the Humber, Yorkshire Forward, working together with local authorities and other regeneration organisations, has supported the building of a stronger, mixed economy that combines a strong service sector with a higher value manufacturing sector, with more people starting their own businesses and new businesses that survive longer. As a result, the region’s economy has been transformed following the decline in core traditional industries and recovered well from natural disasters such as foot and mouth in 2001 and flooding in 2007. Latest data to 2006 show it has had consecutive years of growth above the EU average.

Latest statistics show there were over 350,000 businesses in the Yorkshire and the Humber region at the start of 2007, up by 94,000 (37 per cent.) from 256,000 in 2001.

Yorkshire Forward has been leading on the simplification of business support provision in the region. The most significant change for business so far has been the rationalisation of the Business Link network and the development of a single regional gateway to business support (Business Link Yorkshire) that was launched in April 2008. This will significantly reduce the duplication of services, provide greater clarity, and redirect resources into front-line support services for businesses in the region. Yorkshire Forward also plans to make significant changes to its own support mechanisms, to focus on supporting six core programmes of activity that aid the overall start up and growth of a business.

Examples of specific support programmes that have supported business development include:

Objective 1 European Funding for South Yorkshire—where the 2000-06 programme worth a total of £2.4 billion (including over £770 million from the European Union’s Structural Fund budget as well as public and private sector resources) resulted in over 1,300 new small and medium enterprises and over 30,000 new jobs in the area.

Objective 2 European Funding for the rest of Yorkshire and the Humber—where total of nearly £1 billion (including £350 million of European Structural Funds alongside UK public and private sector sources) resulted in over 22,000 new jobs.

Yorkshire and Humber Manufacturing Advisory Service (Y and H MAS)—based on a national scheme, where since 2002 advisers have worked with almost 2,500 manufacturers across the region to improve their processes and productivity, helped to secure 17,640 jobs and create 1,140 new jobs and made productivity improvements which have contributed to an overall increase in turnover of over £200 million.

The region’s Graduate Retention Programme, which has been running for six years, funded by Yorkshire Forward in partnership with the region’s universities, which aims to retain graduates from the universities and colleges of Yorkshire and Humber, as well as the attracting graduate talent from outside the region. This is critically important for business’ ability to compete on a national and international stage.

Centres of Industrial Collaboration (CICs)—are funded by Yorkshire Forward. They aim to get knowledge within universities into companies in practical ways. Since their launch in 2003 they have collaborated with over 1,800 businesses and generated more than £39 million of research income for the region.

Leeds and the wider Leeds city region have benefited, as have all parts of the region, from these programmes.

Since 2005, a major new driver for encouraging enterprise in the neediest areas of the region is the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI). Yorkshire and Humber has five LEGI partnerships, led by the local authorities, working to ensure wider benefits of business growth spread to more deprived communities. They will be supported by £128.6 million from the Government over five years. The five LEGI schemes cover Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Doncaster and North East Lincolnshire.

The Leeds LEGI programme, entitled ‘Sharing the Success’ aims to address great imbalances in the local economy. Leeds has been awarded approximately £20 million to deliver an enterprise programme targeted at tackling worklessness issues in its most deprived neighbourhoods. To date nearly 50 new businesses have started in the LEGI area, nearly 100 new jobs created and over 100 local residents found employment.