The Conservative Party has called on RDAs to justify their existence after discovering that they have spent £13bn since their creation but have failed in their objective of closing the economic growth gap between regions in the north and south of the country. Daily Telegraph

Using new figures from the Department of Business, Mark Prisk, the shadow minister for the regions, has found that running costs at the nine agencies have also rocketed, with the total salary bill jumping from £48m in 2000 to £151m last year, and total running costs hitting £214m, up 132%.

'If you spend nine years and £13bn you would expect to see some improvements in the regional gap but it has got wider,' said Prisk.

He said that regions might have benefited from the investment but that did not mean the agencies were the best way to deliver this support. 'If you are going to spend money on regional economic development you don’t allow the gap to get wider. It begs the question, do the RDAs have a proper economic future?' he said.

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Yorkshire Forward, said 'Virtually any target the RDAs have been given over the last 10 years they have met.'