NWDA records an average rating in RDA report

Michael Hunt

As part of an independent report by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, 65 programmes and projects led by the North West Development Agency have been evaluated, revealing the NWDA has performed as well as the national Regional Development Agencies average in terms of return on investment.

The programmes and projects equated to 60% of total NWDA activity since its inception in 1999.

Headline statistics over the past five years show that from the projects evaluated, the NWDA has:

  • Directly created or safeguarded 97,000 jobs from the investments it made
  • Created 3,500 new businesses
  • Helped 14,000 companies improve their business performance
  • Regenerated 1,900 hectares of disused land
  • Helped 97,000 people to gain new skills

Steven Broomhead, North West Development Agency chief executive, said: "I believe our approach in providing strategic leadership is our most important role and in the current challenging economic conditions, it will be essential for us to learn lessons and ensure the best value for money for our future investments.

"This report will be vital in ensuring we continue to direct our resources towards projects and programmes that will have the maximum sustainable economic benefit for businesses and local communities."

The report, titled 'Impact of RDA spending', was undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In the report it highlighted a number of NWDA-invested projects and programmes which made a significant return on its initial investment. These included:

Agenda for Change, the manufacturing support service to improve productivity, innovation and raising the profile of the sector principally to engage more young people. To date, the programme has achieved:

  • £45m Gross Value Added has been achieved against a £10m investment. This increases to £110m when projected lifetime benefits are added
  • Created or safeguarded 1,200 jobs

Project ACCESS, the NWDA's £17m broadband programme for Cumbria and North Lancashire, which to date has:

  • Achieved £42m GVA for the region
  • Provided access to broadband for 99.8% of businesses and residents in Cumbria and North Lancashire
  • Established broadband connections for almost 17,000 businesses, which is 71% of the total number of businesses in the area. The business take-up of broadband before the project was just 7%

Project Unity, the creation of a new world-class university for Manchester recognised amongst the top tier of university institutions. The project has:

  • Achieved £54m GVA against a £20m investment. This increases to £252m when projected lifetime benefits are added
  • Levered in approximately £145m of third party investment into the University's spin-out companies – more than all of the investment transactions carried out in the ten-year period prior to the creation of the new University

The creation of Liverpool Commercial District, to improve the trading environment and encourage private sector investment into the city. The project has:

  • Achieved £56m GVA against a £7m investment. This increases to £289m when projected lifetime benefits are added
  • Created or safeguarded almost 1,500 jobs

Regional Strategic Sites Programme, overseeing the development of a strong offering of employment sites has:

  • Achieved £59m GVA against a £56m investment. This increases to £307m when projected lifetime benefits are added
  • Created over 1,500 jobs
  • Levered £122m of investment from the private sector and other public sector sources

The Regional Marketing Programme, which aims to promote the region as a location to visit, live, work and invest in, has:

  • Achieved £119m GVA against a £16m investment
  • And is likely to have a future potential impact of £100m annually on tourism revenue in the region

The report showed between 2002-03 and 2006-07, for every £1 spent by the RDAs, an average of £4.50 of economic output, or gross value added, was put back into the regional economies.

It meant the nine RDAs in England had quadrupled their £5.1bn of evaluated expenditure during this time, with an overall return on investment of over £23bn.

Speaking about the RDA report, business secretary Lord Peter Mandelson, commented: "I think RDAs can do even more. They must relentlessly focus on economic recovery and growth and are ideally placed to help lay down the commercial infrastructure of the 21st Century.

"I am confident that the RDAs can rise to this challenge. I have asked them to report back to me by the end of May and will be closely following their progress."

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