Jul 2007 10

In an interview with today’s Financial Times, Shadow Business Secretary Alan Duncan said that Regional Development Agencies must "justify their existence" to escape being abolished by a Conservative government. He said:

"My experience with all RDAs is, after an initial ‘Oh yes, we like
them’, people very quickly say in the next sentence ‘But what the hell
do they really do?’ and that is the question mark.

I
don’t think they are changing the overall enterprise culture of any of
their regions. They’re doing a little bit of infrastructure, a little
bit of training, a spoonful of sugar here, a spoonful of sugar there.

[RDAs will] have to justify their existence and we’re
going to issue that challenge to them. I’m not saying we’re going to
abolish them. We might. Who knows?”

About time too! Regional Development Agencies cost taxpayers £2.2 billion a year, pay their executives top salaries, have silly names like One North East and Yorkshire Forward, and fail to prevent a growing regional divide. Scrapping them would allow the small company rate of corporation tax to be reduced by 6 percentage points, a far better way to help regional development.

We hope that Alan Duncan means what he says.