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25 July, 2011 - 12:27 By News Desk

Doomed EEDA creates 22,000 jobs in three years

Will Pope, chair of EEDA

The East of England Development Agency has had a lively final year for a dead man walking – creating or safeguarding 8,800 jobs in the ideas region of the UK and Europe.

In its last full year before the Government axe falls, EEDA has also helped  2,800 local businesses to start up and grow; supported 31,800 people in learning new skills and backed nearly 100,000 local businesses and entrepreneurs through the regional Business Link service.

The Government decided to scrap Regional Development Agencies – apart from Tory-controlled London – because it was perceived that despite billions of pounds of funding, they had ‘failed to close the North South divide.’

They were replaced by under-funded and out-of-touch local Enterprise partnerships, many of them built on inter-city alliances that make little economic sense.

Will Pope, chair of EEDA (pictured) said: “Over the last financial year EEDA has delivered a hugely significant £78 million programme of work – the benefits of which will be felt by local people, businesses and communities for decades to come.

“This work has been delivered alongside preparations for closure and these results are a testament to the professionalism and dedication of EEDA staff who continued to work hard for the people of this region despite an uncertain personal future.

“2010/11 also marked the end of EEDA’s three-year corporate plan period.  We are proud to report we exceeded all our targets, creating 22,000 jobs, improving the skills of 114,000 people and helping 7,700 businesses start up.

“Our 11-year record of creating jobs, supporting local businesses, improving people’s skills and transforming places will provide a legacy that will continue to provide benefits long after we are gone.”

While much of the activity undertaken by EEDA will cease, several important programmes will be continuing under new delivery arrangements.

• Inward Investment activity has been transferred from EEDA to UK Trade and Investment. UKTI will oversee the contract but PA Consulting Group has been tasked with delivering the service on the ground. The East of England has had a bumper year in terms of foreign direct investment. More than 4,000 jobs were created or safeguarded as a result of exports by East of England companies or foreign investment into the region.

• EEDA has been responsible for administering the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which has an overarching objective of supporting of supporting low carbon economic growth. Under EEDA management the programme is forecast to help more than 5,200 businesses, create or safeguard around 2,800 jobs and support nearly 2,600 new environmental business initiatives.  Management of the ERDF programme transferred to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on July 1.

• Also under EEDA management has been the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) 2007-13, a £65 million fund to improve the competitiveness of rural communities and businesses in the East of England. Since the start of the programme in 2007 EEDA has committed over £43.5 million to projects across the six counties. On July 1, the fund transferred from EEDA management to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Pope added: “In all cases we are proud to be handing over such strongly performing teams with the service in better shape than ever before. The new management teams inherit a healthy pipeline of ongoing activity that will enable them to build on the good work of EEDA.”

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