Devon County Council has welcomed the Government’s announcement today recommending approval for Assisted Area status to cover large areas of Devon up to 2020.
The poorest areas in Devon are poised to get a bigger of slice of public regeneration cash after the Government revealed the list of areas needing hand-outs.
Some 50 electoral in the county have been earmarked as so-called "assisted areas", which means they will be given priority when Whitehall dishes out regional aid to boost jobs.
Under the previous regime, just 14 areas in Devon were earmarked as needing help, all in Plymouth and its hinterland.
Devon business leaders and MPs have long complained that neighbouring Cornwall gets significantly larger amounts of help, despite both areas being among the poorest in the country.
Yet the new status will have little impact on the huge gulf between what Cornwall receives compared to Devon through EU structural aid programmes.
Despite the national perceptions of rural idyll, both areas suffer from a low-wage culture as a result of the decline in traditional industries.
All of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly already has "assisted area" status because its GDP, a measure of economic activity, is among the lowest in Europe.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills' refreshed map of areas to get priority from funding pools, including the £2.6 billion Regional Growth Fund.
Nick Harvey, Liberal Democrat MP for North Devon, who has campaigned for areas bordering Cornwall to receive "assisted area" status, said: "Business Secretary Vince Cable visited North Devon in November last year and heard first-hand from some of our leading manufacturers just how much it would benefit North Devon. I'm glad he was persuaded of our case and has today delivered a boost that recognises the needs of our area.
"North Devon may have some of the lowest average wages in the country, but we have a uniquely strong manufacturing sector: assisted area status now means we can unlock its potential for job creation and growth.
"With an improved and expanded assisted areas map, businesses like Actavis and TDK Lambda will now see important projects go ahead to secure their future – meaning more jobs for local people and vital overseas investment. This is good news all round."
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, said: “This is fantastic news for Devon. Devon County Council has been working very closely with the Heart of the South West LEP, MPs and Government Departments to make the case for increasing eligible Government Assisted Areas across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. The County Council has been lobbying for more of rural Devon and some of our market towns to be included in this map to ensure they achieve the maximum benefit for the local economy from the support that’s available.
“There is an overwhelming case for the granting of Assisted Area status to the areas of our county because these local economies are still not performing as well as many parts of the country, but there are significant opportunities within these areas, which we have highlighted to Government and we’re delighted they have backed our case. We have provided a sound and well-evidenced response to help shape the final Assisted Areas Map for the next six years. In particular we made a very strong case for Government help for North Devon and it’s encouraging that they have listened to what we said.”
Assisted areas in Devon:
PLYMOUTH - NINE WARDS
BudsheadDevonportHamHonicknowleMoor ViewSt Budeaux St Peter and the Waterfront Southway Sutton and Mount Gould
TORBAY - THREE WARDS
NORTH DEVON - ELEVEN WARDS
Bickington and RoundswellBraunton WestCentral TownForches and Whiddon ValleyFremingtonGeorgeham and Mortehoe Heanton PunchardonIlfracombe WestInstowLongbridgePilton
SOUTH HAMS - TEN WARDS
Avon and HarbourneBickleigh and Shaugh Cornwood and Sparkwell East Dart Erme Valley Ivybridge Central Ivybridge Filham Ivybridge Woodlands Totnes Bridgetown Totnes Town
TEIGNBRIDGE - FIVE WARDS
Buckland and MilberBushellIpplepenKerswell-with-Combe College
TORRIDGE - 12 WARDS
AppledoreBideford EastBideford NorthBideford SouthClovelly BayHartland and BradworthyKenwithMonkleigh and Littleham NorthamOrchard HillTorringtonWestward Ho!
Business Minister Michael Fallon said: "Assisted Area status can be a shot in the arm for growth and jobs across the UK. It makes local businesses eligible to bid for additional funding and support that can help them to create jobs, invest in new premises or machinery, develop and grow.
"We listened carefully to local groups to identify places where regional aid can have the biggest impact and help to rebalance the economy. The regeneration of a range of industrial centres, coastal and urban areas has been given a boost today."