If proposed boundary changes currently being consulted on by the Government are adopted, Assisted Area Status (AAS) will enable state aid - provided as regional aid - to promote the economic development of certain disadvantaged areas within the European Union.
The government published the draft map proposing areas of the UK eligible to receive regional aid on 18 December 2013, which, if approved, could now cover the likes of Kent Science Park near Sittingbourne, as well as parts of Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.
Regional aid is typically offered as capital investment for businesses in less prosperous local economies designated for AAS. The Regional Growth Fund (RGF) and the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) are among the schemes offering this.
Although AAS is not a guarantee of regional aid funding, support is targeted at key factories and sites for development in areas where investment has been prioritised by Local Enterprise Partnerships and Local Authorities.
The case for continuing and extending AAS in Kent was put forward by the combined efforts of the South East LEP, Kent County Council, the district councils of Dover and Thanet, Swale Borough Council and Medway Council. Other respondents arguing Kent’s case during the first stage of the consultation included Discovery Park, Manston Airport, Tillett Racing Seats and Thanet Business Forum.
The consultation on the draft map will close on 7 February 2014, it builds on Stage 1 of the AAS consultation that ran from 31 July to 30 September 2013. The responses will inform the final Assisted Areas Map which will be submitted to the European Commission for approval in spring 2014.
Find out more about the parts of Kent being considered for AAS here.