Consultation, Press, The Regions, Welfare to Work

– The Government's 'Local Enterprise Partnerships'

‘Local Enterprise Partnerships’ the latest

The government’s plans to replace Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) with ‘local enterprise partnerships’ (LEPs) need a rethink said a Department for Business select committee report earlier this week. The Government is scrapping the network of nine RDAs in favour of more than 40 local enterprise partnerships

Although the committee said the new LEPs may help in “opening up roads to local growth”, it warned that during the transition from the old RDAs, they will require at least some government money before they can become self-sustaining.

Adrian Bailey MP, chair of the committee said of LEPs: “At the moment they are an unproven innovation.” He continued: “To succeed, LEPs will need the powers and recognition required to give substance to their visions for turning local economies around.”

The coalition’s plans for LEPs have been criticised for depriving regional projects and companies of funding just as they are demanded to lead economic recovery. The MPs went further to recommend that the RDAs should continue in some form in certain areas, claiming “the democratically expressed wishes of local businesses to retain regional coordination should be respected where they are clearly manifested.”

But ministers are adamant that the new Regional Growth Fund, a pot of £1.4 billion, will redress the balance and make local planning more accountable than what they argue are remote regional bodies.

Mr Bailey concluded that there were “substantial challenges to central and local government, LEPs and the business community, but the economic prize is too important for them not to meet those challenges head on.”

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