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31 October, 2011 - 11:43 By News Desk

Lotus millions could safeguard Norfolk jobs

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

Group Lotus is believed to have secured a £10 million loan from the UK government to help underpin a major restructuring strategy.

The Norfolk-based carmaker had been knocked back in a previous bid for £30m from the Regional Growth Fund. It was invited to submit a lower bid of £10m to help protect around 400 jobs and create over 1,000 new manufacturing positions.

Neither the company nor the Government commented on the level of the RGF handout, which formed part of a £950m windfall for UK business.

It is believed the company’s Malaysian owner wants to invest £200m in refocusing the business on luxury sports cars for global markets.

The company’s engineering centre at Hethel would become Lotus’s centre of applied research under the revamp.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg unveiled the cash awards in the second round of the £1.4 billion RGF.

He claimed that of the 201,000 jobs to be created or protected by the funding, around 37,000 would be directly created jobs and over 164,000 in the supply chain. The Government investment would support nearly £6 billion of private investment secured by the successful projects, he added.

Once again, the awards militated against the relatively well-off South and East territories and pumped most of the cash northwards.

Defending the so-called positive discrimination approach, Clegg said: “The funding unlocks private sector investment – with at least £5 put in for every £1 of public money.

“People in the rest of Britain have been let down for far too long by governments in thrall to one Square Mile of it.

“The first pot of Regional Growth Fund money is already making a difference across the country - helping to rebalance our economy so that every region and sector benefits.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

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