sheffield forgemasters

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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The business department has put out a list of 119 successful bidders for £950m of public money through the regional growth fund. (A new vehicle which now plays part of the role of the wound-up RDAs.) On average this is more than £8m each.

The only downside is that you can’t see how much money each company or council is getting or – necessarily – what for. In fact there are 10 successful bids where no details whatsoever have been disclosed: even the names of the winning companies. Read more