The government has announced that it is extending its Assisted Area status to several new parts of the UK, allowing eligible local businesses to bid for funding and tax breaks.
Large parts of North East England, South Yorkshire, Merseyside, Strathclyde, the West Midlands and the Welsh Valleys are already benefiting from this government support. Now, manufacturing centres in Derby, Huddersfield, Portsmouth and Scunthorpe have been added to the Assisted Areas map.
In addition, the government has added Leeds and Manchester to the map to help drive business growth across the North of England. And coastal towns including Arbroath, Blackpool, Hastings and Lowestoft have also been targeted for help with regeneration.
Business minister Michael Fallon said: "Assisted Area status can be a shot in the arm for growth and jobs across the UK. It makes local businesses eligible to bid for additional funding and support that can help them to create jobs, invest in new premises or machinery, develop and grow."
He added: "We listened carefully to local groups to identify places where regional aid can have the biggest impact and help to rebalance the economy. The regeneration of a range of industrial centres, coastal and urban areas has been given a boost today."
Assisted Area status makes businesses eligible to apply for regional aid, which is typically offered as capital investment for businesses in less prosperous local economies. Programmes in England that offer regional aid include the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) and the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI).
However, Assisted Area status does not guarantee regional aid funding and businesses in other parts of the country can also receive support, including RGF and AMSCI, for a wide range of projects.
The government's Assisted Areas map is subject to Commission approval and is expected to take effect on 1 July 2014.