To date, 59 projects in the north-west have been awarded a total of £225 million. In addition, £153 million has been granted to 16 programmes, specifically aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises in the region. Taken together, this money will help create tens of thousands of jobs in the north-west.
The regional growth fund has been a great help to businesses across Lancashire and the north-west. In the next round my right hon. Friend can expect to see some excellent bids from Pendle. Will he confirm that he will look closely at these fantastic bids? If they are approved, they will be a real boost to Pendle and east Lancashire.
I certainly will. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for reminding the House that the fourth round of the regional growth fund is now open. I urge any colleague in the House to encourage potential applicants to apply before 20 March, not least because the fund is proving good value for money. In the north-west it is leveraging in some £5.50 for every £1 of public money spent—some 10 times the proportion of the unlamented regional development agency.
Will the Minister confirm that the average cost of jobs created by regional growth funds such as that in the north-west is £33,000? This is more than the cost of jobs created by the regional development agencies, which the Government abolished.