POLITICS
02/12/2013 12:26 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Nick Clegg Brings £1.25bn Business Bank To His Sheffield Constituency

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg addresses delegates during a debate on the economy at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow.
David Cheskin/PA Wire
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg addresses delegates during a debate on the economy at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow.

Nick Clegg has been accused of political "point scoring" after revealing a new government "business bank" is set for his home city of Sheffield

The Liberal Democrat leader said the £1.25 billion government "Business Bank" would make it "easier for businesses in Sheffield and across the UK to expand, create new jobs and help rebuild our economy.” The bank will become fully operational in next autumn, after clearing EU regulations on state aid.

However, critics have suggested Clegg may be politically motivated after suffering a lot of criticism locally for having to cancel a £80 million government loan in 2011 to Sheffield Forgemasters.

Labour councillor Stuart Wattam, from Sheffield's Broomhill ward, told the Huffington Post UK: "There is some point scoring going on. Nick Clegg has been under quite a bit of criticism from the Labour group over his support of the Tory government, the cancellation of the Forgemaster loan and his lack of understanding about local government cuts."

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The bank, which will create up to 30 jobs, is being set up as a state-backed economic development bank to "create more efficient finance markets for smaller businesses in the UK".

An extra £250 million would be added in funding for the bank, along with the existing £1 billion already allocated, Clegg confirmed.

Angela Smith, Labour MP for the Sheffield area constituency of Penistone and Stockbridge, told HuffPostUK she welcomed the Business Bank coming to Sheffield.

She added: "The city and the rest of Yorkshire needs to see is concrete evidence that small businesses are being effectively supported by both the government and our financial institutions, in order to boost growth and export capacity.

"Given Clegg’s poor record on supporting manufacturing in our area and his role in the Sheffield Forgemasters debacle, it is vital that he now turns his attention to ensuring that the business bank works for the benefit of local businesses and to help rebuild our manufacturing base."

Paul Firth, Chairman of Creative Sheffield, the City's the economic development agency, said: “Basing the initiative in Sheffield is not only a sign of the city’s growing standing, but also an indication that the Government increasingly recognises that major innovation and development should not be restricted to London and the south-east.

“Yorkshire is home to a huge pool of talent and we hope that this fantastic news will provide business with exactly what it needs to make the next step forward in their development and growth.”