THE government has announced a £1.9million jobs boost for the partners of servicemen and women based on Salisbury Plain .

Defra Minister, Richard Benyon, visited Ludgershall on Wednesday to announce funding that he hopes will see 200 jobs created.

The money will also be used to support 450 local businesses after Wiltshire was selected as one of five regions to receive a Rural Growth Network grant.

It will tackle problems such as lack of business opportunities for military wives and husbands in the garrison towns of Ludgershall, Tidworth, Amesbury, Bulford and Durrington. Mr Benyon said: “It should be as easy to run successful businesses in a rural area as in a town, but in the past problems like a lack of work premises and poor access to skills training have held rural entrepreneurs back, and it’s often harder still if your partner is in the army.

“This project will tackle these barriers to economic growth, giving spouses of serving military personnel and those leaving the forces more job opportunities and the support and workspace they need to set up their own businesses.”

Mr Benyon visited the Castledown Business Centre in Ludgershall, which will be transformed by the Rural Growth Network into 40 new work premises where entrepreneurs will have space to start companies, and jobs will be created as local businesses get the support they need.

He also met students from Wellington Academy’s applied learning centre where Defra invested £93,750 to provide vocational learning for young people planning technical careers.

Wiltshire Council cabinet member for economy, Fleur de Rhe-Philipe said: “Supporting the rural economy is a priority for Wiltshire Council and its partners, and we welcome this initiative which sends a strong signal that we want to make Wiltshire a business location of choice.

“We hope this will help build confidence in the local economy at a crucial time.”