£5m fund for defence businesses in Portsmouth

Matthew Hancock MP in Portchester today
Matthew Hancock MP in Portchester today
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The Government has announced a £5m boost for defence development in Portsmouth.

MP Matthew Hancock, who was appointed minister for the city last week, made the announcement today during a visit to Autonomous Surface Vehicles in Portchester.

The company already builds unmanned vessels, which is one of the areas of the marine and defence sector the government is interested in growing.

Mr Hancock said: ‘This money is to make sure that Portsmouth is at the cutting edge of marine technology. It has been really interesting to hear today about the unmanned ship technology and how we can do these things without putting people in danger.

‘I am absolutely passionate about supporting Portsmouth and its progress.

‘There have been some difficult decisions in the last few months and my predecessor Michael Fallon has put a lot of effort into trying to retain the skill base of the shipyard workers.’

It follows the government’s announcement last Monday that a Centre of Marine Intelligent Systems will be based at Portsdown Hill.

Mr Hancock went on to visit Southsea Coffee in Osborne Road, one of the businesses in receipt of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership’s Bridging the Gap fund.

He said: ‘The fund is about making sure we give businesses like this some money which can create big growth.

‘This £20,000 helped Southsea Coffee create six jobs - one can’t imagine them being created without that extra money.

‘Our experience is it does not work if we purely give taxpayers’ money to businesses and not give them the support to grow.’

Tara Knight, the coffee shop’s owner, said she would have struggled to create the business she has now without the support of the LEP.

‘I would have still set up the business because we signed the lease before we heard if we had a loan from the bank or the LEP money,’ she said.

‘But it would have been really difficult. I would not have had the equipment or the money for the staff. We have been able to grow and have a stable business.’