Budget will support businesses and boost innovative sectors – EEDA

THE Budget will help businesses and employees through the downturn and support the region’s UK-leading biotech, sustainable energy, and low carbon technology sectors to grow, according to the East of England Development Agency (EEDA).

Richard Ellis, chair of EEDA welcomed the 2009 Budget announcement and said: “EEDA welcomes the chancellor’s Budget announcement, which provides substantial and real help for the region’s half million businesses, supports future industries in which the region is a leader and provides investment in training in those sectors. The emphasis on advanced manufacturing, low carbon and digital communications really plays to the region’s strengths and our growth potential.

“I am particularly pleased to see that the government has responded positively to EEDA’s recommendations with extra support for export and trade credit insurance and by strengthening the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme. These initiatives will help to unblock the flow of credit for businesses and help them compete in the global marketplace.

“This region is one of the most innovative in the UK. The support announced today, sitting alongside the £30 million worth of publicly funded business support featured on EEDA’s Business Map, will put regional companies in a position of strength to take advantage of opportunities in the upturn.

“Business confidence has been low but we are seeing signs of some improvement. We are seeing increasing demand for our start-up packages, our most recent Proof of Concept funding round has received high numbers of submissions. The current workshop programme run by EEDA-funded Business Link has been very popular, with more than 1,200 delegates attending the free business start up events in February alone.

“Finance is critical issue for all businesses and in response to this EEDA will be launching a new support programme to help companies understand what finance is available and help them access the most appropriate support.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to improving broadband access across the country. It will enable the East of England’s rural businesses and communities in particular to benefit from the digital economy.

“The additional £1 billion funding for tackling climate change, including investment in offshore power generation and carbon capture will provide an additional boost for the region’s ground-breaking and fast-growing sustainable energy and environmental technologies sector. This region already produces more renewable energy than any other region and this announcement, with EEDA’s investments in facilities such as OrbisEnergy, stimulating growth in offshore renewable energy, will help put us in a strong position to be world-leaders in the low-carbon economy.

“The help pledged for the construction industry and for local authorities to build houses is much-needed. There is a still a shortage of affordable homes in the region and helping people live closer to their places of employment reduces the burden on the overloaded transport network, improves quality of life and reduces carbon emissions. Coupled with the investment to introduce more measures to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses it means the region is on track to be a leading carbon-cutting region.”

EEDA has invested in East of England International (EEI) to attract and support inward investors and assist companies that are looking to expand in the region or develop their export potential. EEI, delivering UK Trade and Investment services in the region helped 814 companies in the last 12 months, catapulting the East of England into the top three performing regions, in terms of export.

Mr Ellis added: “Our focus now is on support for businesses but we are not losing sight on the importance of planning with our partners for the ambitious future growth of the region. Only with increased and dedicated investment in the region’s infrastructure, housing, skills and transport, can the East of England continue to be one of only three regions to make a positive contribution to the exchequer.”

Click here for the Budget summary for business, download the entire speech and read comments from city accountants.