HC Deb 10 November 1999 vol 337 c629W
Gillian Merron

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement about the new measures he is planning to introduce to support the growth of smaller businesses in selected areas, as announced in the White Paper, "Building the Knowledge-Driven Economy". [98159]

Mr. Byers

I intend to allocate £45 million over three years for a new Enterprise Grant scheme for SMEs. This will complement the new assistance being made available in this sector for venture capital under the Enterprise Fund.

Support will be targeted at growth SMEs in tiers 1, 2 and 3 of the proposed new Assisted Areas map currently under discussion with the European Commission and due to come in to effect on 1 January 2000. It will provide SMEs with the opportunity of a selective grant of up to 15 per cent. of fixed capital investment on projects of up to £500,000, with a ceiling of £75,000 on the maximum assistance. The scheme will replace grants at this level currently available under Regional Selective Assistance in the English regions. The priorities for support will reflect RDA economic strategies for the region.

The scheme is subject to approval from the European Commission.