By Claire West

Commenting on the launch of a £1 billion Regional Growth Fund for areas particularly affected by public spending cuts, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

'While any extra investment is welcome, this £1 billion fund needs to be set against the £73 billion of cuts the Government is planning.

'Only a fundamental rethink of the Government's approach to deficit reduction will avoid the joblessness and desperation which will emerge in the areas they claim to be helping.'

Commenting on plans to abolish Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), Brendan Barber said:

'RDAs have a proven track record of supporting regional economies, with every £1 invested creating £4.50 in the wider economy.

'Replacing them with a variety of local partnerships poses a real risk at a time when strong regional leadership is needed to meet the challenges of supporting the recovery and rebalancing our economy.'