Two Government departments are responsible for the bulk of funding for industrial location. The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) has the RDAs under its wing, and deals with European regional funds. The Department of Trade and Industry is responsible for Business Links, set up to provide support and advice on relocation among other responsibilities.
The RDAs are supposed to take existing regional strategies forward, and build up expertise in analysing the regional economy. This includes improving the performance of the Business Links service for small and medium-sized businesses in England. RDAs also deal with inward investment and supervise Regional Selective Assistance, which provides funds in assisted areas for investment which will safeguard jobs. RSA is the main source of grants for private companies.
There are two types of assisted area – development and intermediate. Larger grants are possible in development areas. Eligible schemes can be projects creating employment or others which modernise or rationalise operations and safeguard existing jobs.
The assisted area map may soon be redrawn, with some areas being downgraded. Property adviser Healey and Baker has a grants unit which can advise on this.
The European regional development fund (EDRF) is one of three main EU structural funds. The current programme ends this year, but payments under it will continue until December 2001.
In 1998/99 a total of £17.8m was paid in EDRF grants for business development in England. The funds are allocated according to European Commission definitions of areas.
Objective 1 covers UK regions which are regarded as `lagging behind’, defined as less than 75% of average European Union GDP per head’. Objective 2 covers industrial and urban areas facing `structural difficulties’ such as long-term unemployment or a declining major industry.