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Regional Growth Fund

Volume 557: debated on Tuesday 22 January 2013

In my written ministerial statement of 6 September 2012, Official Report, columns 27-28WS, I announced that the round 3 contracting process would be quicker and lessons learned from the previous rounds would be applied. In round 3 I implemented a defined contracting process with fixed timings. Under this new timetable, once bidders were informed they have been selected, a conditional offer had to be agreed within three months of that date, and bidders then have a further three months to complete due diligence. This means that selected round 3 bidders are expected to sign a final offer within six months of Ministers deciding to support the bid.

I am pleased to report that these new deadlines have galvanised bidders and that round 3 contracting has progressed faster than previous rounds. Following the shortlisting process, 130 selected bids were announced on 19 October 2012, which meant the three-month deadline expired on 19 January 2013. Seven bidders have withdrawn. I can inform both Houses that at 19 January all the remaining 123 bidders have now been issued with conditional offer letters, some of which require multiple contracts, setting out detailed terms and conditions.

The fund is designed to operate during the life of this Parliament and if the regional growth fund secretariat is not confident that a particular bid will deliver within the agreed six-month time frame, it will take immediate steps to ensure that funding can be re-allocated in good time. The means that, subject to considering exceptional circumstances, those bids that do not meet the next deadline for final offer letters will be required to withdraw.

I will continue to keep Parliament informed about progress.

Withdrawals

In addition to the seven withdrawals from round 3 mentioned above, 18 round 1 and 2 projects have been withdrawn since my statement of 6 September. A list of all withdrawals to date will be published in due course.