North Devon’s MP has called on central Government to give extra funding to the region’s businesses.
Nick Harvey has asked for key manufacturing areas of North Devon to be included in the assisted areas map.
This allows qualifying areas to access regional aid funding to boost their local economy and is targeted at areas with economic difficulties.
Mr Harvey welcomed the inclusion of Fremington and Insow in the first draft of the map but pressed the Government to add more areas such as Barnstaple and Ilfracombe.
He added: “I’m pleased to see that Fremington and Instow have already made it into the first draft of the Assisted Areas map. But I want to see much more of North Devon benefit from the opportunities that regional aid funding can bring.
“North Devon may have some of the lowest average wages in the country, but our area has a strong manufacturing sector with a lot of potential for growth.
“Pharmaceutical company Actavis is looking to expand in Barnstaple and has already submitted a £6m expansion plan to the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, and in Ilfracombe TDK Lambda have plans to increase their production facilities and create more well-paid jobs. If those towns and their surrounding areas are not included in the Assisted Areas map, these important projects will struggle go ahead and North Devon could miss out on vital overseas investment.”
Meanwhile North Devon Council has called for more areas to be included following the release of the latest Job Seekers Allowance figures.
In December 2013 there were 879 people claiming the allowance in North Devon which, although 462 fewer than in 2012, is an increase on the figures for November 2013 which goes against the national trend.
Executive member for economic regeneration Councillor Malcolm Prowse said: “To help local businesses even more and provide additional work throughout the year, we're continuing to lobby for increased Assisted Areas Status coverage. This will improve opportunities for small businesses in our district to get financial support under EU regional aid guidelines."
The council is calling on the Government to rethink areas which have been missed out.
The draft Assisted Areas Status map is available to view and comment on until Friday, February 7.