Business grants sacrificed for cheap homes

ALTHOUGH first-time home-buyers will benefit from the Government s new shared-ownership scheme, support for economic development in Huntingdonshire will be cut to fund it. The new plan, for which the Government has earmarked £300million nationally, will s

ALTHOUGH first-time home-buyers will benefit from the Government's new shared-ownership scheme, support for economic development in Huntingdonshire will be cut to fund it.

The new plan, for which the Government has earmarked £300million nationally, will see the East of England Development Agency's budget reduced by £1.5million next year and by a massive £20million in 2010/11.

Although it is too soon to say what the effect will be, EEDA said, the agency has supported projects such as the creative enterprise centre, nearing completion on the Longsands campus in St Neots and expected to underpin significant business start-ups and future job-creation.

As well as providing business support and helping deliver sustainable economic development, EEDA's £154million budget this year is supporting skills, innovation, infrastructure and strategic planning across the region's six counties, including Cambridgeshire.


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Huntingdonshire District Council's chief executive David Monks warned last week that the agency's budget could be cut by as much as 30 per cent in total.

EEDA chairman Richard Ellis said: "While we fully understand that the Government has to make tough decisions, we're very disappointed with this unexpected cut in funding. The impact of a major reduction in EEDA funding will be significant for businesses, communities and people who live in our region.

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"It's not just about the level of business support, regeneration or access to finance for innovative new companies that will be affected - but also our ability to use our funding to draw in additional match money for the region via Europe and the public and private sector. For every £1 we invest we draw in an additional 90p from elsewhere to support our region.

"This follows two previous budget reductions earlier this year. At this stage, we cannot say which of our programmes will be affected, but clearly there will be a significant impact. This is, however, a major setback for the East of England at a time when we are striving to support businesses and communities who are facing a challenging economic climate."

Shared-ownership involves people buying part of the equity in their homes and renting the rest until they reach a position of being able to borrow the balance of the purchase price.

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