Chancellor's plan focuses on rural growth

George Osborne has unveiled £22.5m to support business growth in north-east England – with special focus on rural communities.

The Chancellor made the announcement during a visit to Simpson Malt in Berwick-upon-Tweed on Thursday (3 July).

The programme will operate across County Durham, Gateshead and rural Northumberland over the next five years from 2015.

Investments will made through two grant funds: the Small Business Growth Fund and the Economic Infrastructure Fund.

This will fund the development of workspaces – including the refurbishment of existing buildings, bringing redundant buildings back into use, and new build developments.

The programme will also fund the creation of rural 'enterprise hubs' aimed at providing flexible workspace for small businesses.

Investment targets include tourist attractions and accommodation, as well as new equipment to help small business grow where they may have struggled to raise finance from elsewhere.

Mr Osborne was shown how Simpsons Malt has thrived since its foundation more than 150 years ago, investing more than £90m in its core business during the past 30 years.

"By supporting these business hubs across the region we can create a more balanced, resilient economy," said Mr Osborne.

"Our long term economic plan is about delivering jobs and growth across all parts of Britain, and three quarters of the net new private sector jobs created since 2010 have been outside London."

The money will be allocated over five years and be made up of £6m government funding, private sector investment of £9.5m and £7m of European funding.



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