The BBC’s Wazeen Mirza talks to Keith Brown for the Federation of Small Businesses and the BBC’s Ian Barmer talks to Will Pope of the East of England Development Agency about the news that EEDA will share in the six billion pounds worth of cuts announced by Government today. This report compiled for Drivetime and broadcast at 17:15 on Monday 24th May 2010 in BBC Radio’s Cambridgeshire’s Drivetime programme hosted by Andy Burrows.
BURROWS: Andy Burrows in for Antonia Brickell on Drivetime here on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. And we’ll stick with our top story about the Government’s decision to announce six billion pounds worth of cuts today. And EEDA, the East of England Development Agency has found out it will be facing cuts. The agency’s mission is to improve the economy in the East of England. BBC Look East’s Waseem Mirza met Keith Brown the Regional Organiser for the Federation of Small Businesses and asked him how successful development agencies actually are. (TAPE)
BROWN: We think it’s very important that the level of business support is maintained, so that businesses as we’re coming out of recession have the help that’s available to them. Whether that support is best delivered through Regional Development Agencies or through other agencies is something we’d like to discuss, so we actually come forward with positive ways of actually helping supporting businesses.
MIRZA: Obviously there’s been much talk about this. It couldn’t have come as a huge suprise, could it?
BROWN: No, certainly not. And it’s fair to say that EEDA is not the most popular Regional Development Agency with the business community. And what we’re keen to do, and indeed is one of the reasons I’m here today, is to see how we can improve the business support that they can deliver to businesses in the county.
MIRZA: have you had much of a chance to assess the news amongst staff here?
BROWN: I’ve not actually been into the building yet, so I’ve not actually met any of the staff here. But I’m sure it’s a very worrying and disturbing time for them. I think it’s important that that is resolved as rapidly as possible, for their sakes, and from my point of view for the sake of the businesses that rely on Regional Development Agencies to provide support when they need help and assistance.(LIVE)
BURROWS: Pete Brown that was from the Federation of Small Business. Well Will Pope is the Chairman of the East of England Development Agency and he spoke to the BBC’s Ian Barmer. (TAPE)
POPE: We have seen suggestions over the Press, you know the Press have been very active over the weekend, and there have been suggestions to that effect. But what we do know is that the East of England, the dynamics of business in the East of England are strong, but that’s really important for the United Kingdom. Every pound we invest in the United Kingdom gives a return of five to one. And that’s so important as we help drive the UK recovery. We’re an engine of recovery for the UK. And to me, that means that we should be developing in, investing in and further growing the businesses which are so important to raising future revenues. You know if nobody is making a profit, if businesses aren’t making a profit, aren’t paying taxes, then there won’t be the investment that we all want in our schools and our hospitals. So in this respect future investment in business is absolutely vital.
BARMER: In everything they seem to say the Conservative Party, the Conservative politicians, don’t really seem to like what you do. Vince Cable, another very important Minister at the Treasury, doesn’t like what Regional Development Agencies do. Why is that?
POPE: Well that’s for them to say, why they don’t like us. But what I can say is the .. or I can comment on, is the job that we are doing. So if you talk to the .. and it’s not us that are saying this actually .. you need to talk to our businesses in the region who are impressed by the services we offer, and the growth that we’re adding to the economy. Let’s face it, forty thousand jobs created during the life of EEDA so far. Every one of those people and businesses affected, obviously they rate the value of EEDA and the work that is done.
BARMER: You’ve escaped being abolished. You are facing or probably will face substantial cuts. How can you really plan for the future now with any confidence?
POPE: Well what I can say confidently is that we will deal with the hand that’s dealt us professionally and expertly and the staff in EEDA are working hard to deliver every day for the businesses and the people of the East of England. And that will continue. Within the resources we’re got, we’ll be delivering.(LIVE)
BURROWS: That was Will Pope who’s the Chairman of the East of England Development Agency speaking on the day when the organisation found out it will be facing cuts as part of the Government’s six billion pounds worth of cuts overall.