HC Deb 04 April 2000 vol 347 cc413-4W
35. Dr. Gibson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to support the development of the knowledge-based economy in the English regions. [116179]

Ms Beverley Hughes

In the Budget, the Government announced a total of £210 million of new funding to encourage innovation, enterprise and the use of IT by businesses. This includes £50 million new funding over the next two financial years for the Regional Development Agencies to support their plans for developing clusters and business incubation. This is in addition to the £4 million RDAs will receive in 2000–01 from the Competitiveness Development Fund to spend on priorities they identify for increasing competitiveness in their regions.

The Chancellor also announced an extra £100 million of public funds, £83.7 million of which will go to the English regions, towards a £1 billion umbrella fund to give better access to venture capital for small, growth companies in the regions. An additional £60 million package will promote use of electronic commerce by small firms and a 100 per cent. tax allowance will be made available for small firms buying information and communications technology equipment. A new research and development tax credit will encourage R&D by small and medium sized companies.