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A SCHEME which has seen hundreds of thousands of pounds pumped into the economy is to be extended.

The Bridging the Gap Fund, which is government money allocated by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, was set up purely to help businesses in Gosport, Havant and Portsmouth start, expand, and create jobs.

It has now been extended to Southampton. As reported earlier this week, the second round of grants in this area have just been given out.

Rather than money being distributed to areas around Portsmouth which have been reliant on public funding, a grant of almost £2m will be allocated to entrepreneurs and businesses in Southampton, Isle of Wight and the waterside parishes of the New Forest.

The money has come from the government via the Regional Growth Fund, which is money earmarked to help jump-start local economies.

The Bridging the Gap fund is allocated by a panel of judges, made up of the Solent LEP members, officials from the Federation of Small Businesses, and for this area Mark Waldron, editor of The News.

The concept was originally thought up by Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.