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Revealed – disparity between Suffolk and Norfolk firms in LEP grants

PUBLISHED: 05:30 15 March 2019

The National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket is one of the schemes funded from LEP cash. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

The National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket is one of the schemes funded from LEP cash. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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Suffolk businesses have received nearly half the amount allocated to Norfolk in two regional grant pots, latest data has revealed.

Chris Starkie defended the grant allocations. PIcture: NEW ANGLIA LEPChris Starkie defended the grant allocations. PIcture: NEW ANGLIA LEP

Data presented to Suffolk County Council’s scrutiny committee on Thursday revealed that Suffolk’s total grant figure across its small grant and growing business funds was £9.9million from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – a body which works with businesses, councils and education institutions to drive growth and enterprise.

For the same four-year time period, Norfolk had been boosted by £18.3m in grants – nearly twice the amount Suffolk received.

In total, Suffolk received 38 fewer grants than Norfolk.

But LEP chief executive Chris Starkie said Suffolk was fairly funded.

“Everyone has equal access to the grants,” he said.

“Over a number of years Norfolk companies have been slightly more proactive than Suffolk companies.

“The economic make-up is that there are more smaller companies in Suffolk so the number of small grants is higher.”

Suffolk received 21 more small grants equating to around £400,000 more than Norfolk.

But the Growing Business Fund pot featured 59 more successful bids for Norfolk than Suffolk, meaning £8.7m more went north of the border.

LEP funding traditionally makes up around 20% of a project’s cash, with the rest funded by the project itself, loans or outside investment.

The LEP said those grants were only a portion of its work, and included vast sums invested in projects such as the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket (£250,000), £7m for the West Suffolk College Engineering and Innovation Centre and £1.46m on the Eye link road.

Sue Roper, assistant director of strategic development at Suffolk County Council, said the question of whether the two counties received a fair share of the funding was one that was raised frequently in both counties.

“We have done calculations looking at the total investments across the New Anglia region,” she said, which includes population numbers and geography among others.

She said: “Norfolk is slightly bigger in population so 47% of investment that is channelled through New Anglia goes to Suffolk and 53% in Norfolk, which mirrors that split.”

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