Responding to the Government’s Strengthened Local Enterprise Partnerships report, which sets out changes to LEPs, the local growth bodies that oversee significant economic development funding across England, Mike Spicer, BCC Director of Research and Economics, said:
“Business will welcome the fact that the government’s review of Local Enterprise Partnerships clarifies what LEPs are there to do – and makes the way they are run more transparent.
“Companies have long wanted LEPs to have clearer structures and greater accountability to the local private sector. Properly seen through, a number of the decisions made by ministers could help to improve the relationship between local firms and the partnerships that are tasked with prioritising how public money is invested in the local economy.
“Success, for local business communities, will be measured by whether companies feel that they have a strong voice in setting long-term strategy for their area, a say in prioritising resources, and ultimately, whether LEPs deliver tangible improvements to the local business environment. They will also want to be sure that LEPs are truly strategic in their approach – and avoid crowding out private sector activity, which has been a significant problem in some areas in the past.
“At their core, LEPs exist to ensure that the public and private sectors come together to develop a long-term plan, allocate funding, and get the fundamentals right for local businesses to grow. They must not be distracted from this core purpose, either by local politics or by Whitehall process overload.”