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Assisted Area Status: Parts of Medway and Swale join Thanet and Dover in getting right to apply for regional aid after European Commission approval

By Chris Price

Deprived parts of Medway and Swale haved joined wards in Thanet and Dover in being able to apply for regional aid to support economic growth.

A new Assisted Area Status map of the UK has been approved by the European Commission, making those parts of Kent eligable for the funding between 2014 and 2020.

The decision follows a submission by the Government earlier this month which put forward areas it believed should be eligible to receive money under EU state aid rules.

Sittingbourne High Street
Sittingbourne High Street

In Medway and Swale it included Sittingbourne, Sheerness, Queenborough, most of the Hoo Peninsula and parts of Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.

The status also covers the majority of Thanet plus Sandwich and the nearby area.

The decision means companies employing more than 250 people in those areas will be able to apply for cash through the government’s £2.3bn Regional Growth Fund.

To be eligible, areas had to have a GDP per capita below 75% of the EU average.

Only 3.91% of the UK’s population live in regions falling under this category.

Parts of Medway and Swale have gained Assisted Area Status from the European Commission
Parts of Medway and Swale have gained Assisted Area Status from the European Commission

Locate in Kent chief executive Paul Wookey said: “This decision will make Kent more attractive to larger firms and support the widest possible economic growth.

“Kent has a lot to offer businesses, but it is clear that there are parts of the county that need additional support in order for them to achieve their full potential.”

Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson said: “It wasn’t unexpected. I would have been amazed if the EU had not rubber stamped the recommendations of the government so I’m delighted it’s actually formally agreed now and it means we can set about trying to encourage businesses to make bids.

“The message to businesses, small or large, is that if they feel that they need help to expand their business and create jobs then they should consider putting in a bid.

Locate in Kent chief executive Paul Wookey
Locate in Kent chief executive Paul Wookey

“If they want information about it they should contact the regeneration department at Swale Borough Council and they should be able to tell them what to do.”

Medway Council’s head of strategic development and economic growth Cllr Jane Chitty said: “We are very pleased to have received final confirmation of Assisted Area Status from the European Commission.

"Getting this final approval is great news for Medway and, come the summer, it will give us the ability to pitch for greater levels of support for local business and investors into the area.”

The Assisted Area Status does not guarantee regional aid to all businesses. Support is aimed at employment areas and development sites pointed out by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership and local authorities.

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