New research from the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) fatally undermines the Regional Development Agencies' (RDAs) claims to be targeted at helping private businesses in the regions. TPA researchers using the Freedom of Information Act gathered the full list of who received RDA grants for the financial years 2007-08 and 2008-09, and studied how much money was paid by the Agencies to private business, and how much went to public sector organisations or predominantly public sector projects.
- A total of £2.9 billion was awarded in grants by the RDAs in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
- Over those two years, around £1.8 billion was awarded to predominantly public sector organisations or projects in grants. That is 62 percent of the total grants awarded.
- RDAs have not delivered on their key objective of closing regional imbalances. Gross Value Added (GVA) in the North East increased from £10,758 per head in 1999 to £15,887 in 2008. Over the same period, London’s GVA increased from £22,150 per head to £34,786.3
- Trade unions were awarded £3,110,071 in grants from RDAs in 2008 and 2009. Of this, the Trades Union Congress, including its regional divisions, received £2,648,138.
- Grants were awarded to large companies with big turnovers – EON, 3M, Northumbrian Water, the AMEC Group (a FTSE 100 company), Newcastle Building Society, JP Morgan, BAE Systems and even several football clubs were all recipients of RDA money.
Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
"The Regional Development Agencies are hugely wasteful and ineffective, and they should all be abolished. These quangos have claimed for years to be focused on business, but in reality the majority of their grants have been going to other bodies in the public sector. With a huge budget deficit, the RDAs should be at the top of the list for abolition to save money. We simply can't afford to spend billions on organisations that fail to fulfil their mission, and the RDAs lack any claim to either success or legitimacy."