§ Sir John Hannam
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on progress being made on the implementation of regional challenge.
§ Mr. Heseltine
As I announced in the White Paper on competitiveness, the first round of regional challenge competitions will be held later this year after the European Commission adopts the "Single Programming Documents" which govern structural funds money. A second round will follow three years later.
In agreement with the Commission, prize money for regional challenge will amount to 10 per cent. of the European regional development fund for each eligible area plus 10 per cent. of that sum from the area's European social fund allocation. This equates to some £160 million across the eligible English and Welsh areas for each of the two rounds of competitions.538W
The arrangements for the operation of regional challenge will be set out in guidelines which the Government will draw up in the light of consultations with local partnerships.
Bids will need to satisfy the general criteria for structural fund assistance, and will be assessed against a number of additional criteria, to be finalised in the light of the consultations.
They are likely to include:private sector leverage;comprehensive area-based regeneration effects;a significant contribution to regional competitiveness;strategic importance for the region as a whole; andcontribution to several of the measures specified in the Single Programming Document.
Final decisions on projects will be taken by Ministers on the basis of recommendations from the monitoring committees of local partnerships.