£300 million extra to help local businesses

It’s been announced that the Regional Growth Fund, launched in 2010 by Nick Clegg, will be getting an extra £300 million to invest in local businesses.

So far almost £3 billion has been invested in regional companies through the fund, helping them to expand and take on more staff. Local businesses from any sector are able to apply for funding, with over £1.1 billion invested in manufacturing already.

The range of companies taking advantage of the RGF is simply astounding with everything from universities and aerospace companies to green energy producers. The variety of industries taking part in the scheme is testament to the Liberal Democrats desire to see balanced growth across the whole of the UK and not just in London.

In terms of funding the scheme, public money is being bolstered by private investment. For every £1 invested through the RGF, the private sector has put in £5.50 and the total investment of private sector support is expected to reach £16 billion.

The Regional Growth Fund has so far created over 100,000 jobs and a further 480,000 are expected by the mid-2020s.

Shared parental leave introduced

From this April, new rules brought in by Liberal Democrats mean that working parents will now be able to split up to 50 weeks of maternity and paternity leave between them however they like. This includes up to 37 weeks of paid leave and is on top of two weeks guaranteed paid leave for the mother.

Lib Dems believe that its important for parents to have the choice and flexibility to decide for themselves how they share caring for a newborn child and leave from work which is why we’ve ended the system where parents were much more restricted in what they could do. Fathers in particular were only allowed two weeks of paternity leave and could only take additional paternity leave if their partner returned to work.

Click here to calculate your parental leave allowance under the new rules.

Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem Minister for Business, Women and Equalities, who pushed for the changes writes:

“A couple might opt for father to take the entire 50 weeks of shared parental leave or to take an extra three or four weeks at home just after baby is born. A mother might take the first four months, with father taking over when she goes back to work, or a couple could opt to stay at home together for up to six months. Each family can now work out what will work best for them.

Shared parental leave will help to create a family-friendly culture in the workplace where it is just as normal for fathers and partners to take on childcare responsibilities as mothers. Mothers and adopters will have real choice about when they return to work, fathers will have more time to bond with their children, children will have better outcomes.”

22,870 apprentices in Surrey help hit 2 million goal

It’s been confirmed that the number of apprenticeships created in the UK since 2010 has hit the 2 million mark with 22,870 apprenticeships in Surrey contributing to that goal. The largest ever expansion of apprenticeships is a signature policy of the Liberal Democrats who’ve backed it as a way for young people who don’t want to go to university to gain qualifications at the same time as earning.

This also follows news of Vince Cable announcing a £1 an hour increase in the minimum wage for apprentices.

Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Guildford, Kelly-Marie Blundell commented:

“Apprenticeships are a vital part of building a stronger economy and a fairer society. By ensuring young people are able to earn and learn, we give them the opportunity to get on it life.

“That is why I am delighted young people in Guildford, and across Surrey, have benefited from fantastic training and employment opportunities that apprenticeships offer.

“After finishing one, the majority of apprentices (85%) will stay in work, with two-thirds staying with the same employer.

“I’ve seen for myself in businesses across Guildford the benefit apprenticeships can give to young people and I’m delighted that over two million young people across England have been able to take advantage.”

If you’re interested in being an apprentice or if you know any young people who might be interested in one then visit the national apprenticeship website here.