By Claire West
Secret Millionaire star and ’Insurance Tycoon’ Paul Ragan blasted Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to scrap Regional Development Agencies (RDA’s).
“The RDA in Wales was very beneficial to me with my first business start-ups. Every entrepreneur needs advice and support at the beginning of his career and RDA courses are a good, cheap way of amassing information initially. The RDA definitely contributed to my success in business,” said Mr Ragan.
The £1 billion Regional Growth Fund announced by George Osborne in the emergency budget is about half of the cash that was available to local businesses through the RDA’s.
“The government, through RDA’s, must support enterprise if business is to lead the growth necessary for us to trade our way out of the economic deficit. Young businesses need all the expertise that we can make available for them and especially in the regions like Wales, Scotland and the North. There needs to be focus on further investment aimed at enhanced support for the 10% of businesses with high growth potential across all sectors,“ said Mr Ragan.
Last year’s Treasury report found that RDA’s were among the most efficient of all government departments. Also, a study sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2009 discovered that every £1 invested in regional economies reaped a return of £4.50.
George Osborne’s reforms also mean it’s highly likely that Business Link, the agency specifically designed to help start-ups and small businesses, will be severely limited or scrapped altogether.
Some of the RDA’s functions will be replaced by new agencies - to be called Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). LEP’s will address issues like planning, housing and supporting enterprise. Other roles currently executed by the RDA’s will be taken back under the umbrella of central government.
In the early 90s, Paul Ragan founded the cold start insurance brokerage Motaquote in Cardiff. He was 23 years of age and had left school in Sheffield with few qualifications.
He developed Motaquote into a multi-million pound business and the country’s leading independent insurance broker. He later sold it to become one of Wales’ youngest multi-millionaires.
Since then Paul has worked across a wide range of business disciplines and invested in many disparate sectors. He remains a dedicated entrepreneur and has opened a number of cold start businesses, completed over 20 acquisitions and a number of management buy-outs.
He is ideally placed to comment on business start-ups because he has advised many companies through his business Collateral Thinking that offers a free mentoring service to entrepreneurs.