If proposed boundary changes are adopted by the European Commission, 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, which would now cover the likes of Kent Science Park near Sittingbourne, as well as parts of Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham – if signed off by the European Commission.
Regional aid is typically offered as capital investment for businesses in less prosperous local economies designated for AAS. Programmes offering regional aid include the Regional Growth Fund and the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative.
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 success in putting the case for continuing and extending AAS in Kent was thanks to the combined efforts of the South East LEP, Kent County Council, the district councils of Dover, Thanet and Swale, 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.
Of the 229 responses made to Government on the future of AAS, 86 were from organisations in the South East, the highest of any region in the UK.
The Government anticipates a decision from the European Commission later this year.
The full list of wards for the European Commission to grant AAS to can be found here.