Daily Archives: November 1, 2011

Jim Pickard

The process by which companies apply for grants from the regional growth fund is not desperately transparent. As I wrote on this blog, we don’t know the details or the sums awarded to over a hundred companies yesterday.

And questions are already being raised about how money was allocated to Sheffield Forgemasters (near Nick Clegg’s constituency), JCB (run by a Tory donor) and a company part-owned by Jon Moulton.

What we don’t know in detail is the arguments being put forward by councils and companies which have clinched the final decisions.

Sunny Hundal, founder of the Liberal Conspiracy website, has sent out a bundle of FOI requests to get hold of some of this correspondence. Out of 50 applicants, however, only six have provided the information.

What he received is interesting as it suggests a large degree of arm-twisting by some companies.

For example CQME, a Chinese technology company, has suggested it could make its British subsidiary, Holroyd Precision, the base for its European headquarters.

But if the Rochdale company did not get a £2.8m grant from the RGF, it wrote, this could damage its expansion in this country.

“Without RGF support, the project will not go ahead in the UK as it leaves us with a shortfall of £2.82 million having taken

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Kiran Stacey

During party conferences, the BBC broadcast a piece of footage showing Andrew Tyrie, the chair of the Treasury select committee, talking in hushed tones to Steve Hilton and Craig Oliver before being interviewed by one of their reporters. The Beeb noted that after meeting the pair, Tyrie gave a much more positive assessment of George Osborne’s economic strategy than he had done just a few days before. We noted the encounter here on the blog, as did a number of other media outlets.

The coverage infuriated Tyrie, who says his independence was being called into question unfairly. Well now the BBC has issued a fairly extraordinary on-air apology, stating: Read more

Jim Pickard

You may have got the impression that second home owners are about to lose their discounts on council tax; from recent headlines such as “Second Home Council Discounts To Go” and “Tax Raid on Second Homes” and “Second Home Owners Lose their Tax Loophole“.

This is an issue worth tackling: this year some £420m of discounts are being given on second homes (250,000 of them) and empty homes (610,000). Landlords have already complained that they will be penalised for periods when they are upgrading their properties; but they seem unlikely to get sympathy. Read more