Written evidence from Business Voice West
1.1 Business Voice WM is appreciative that
the Committee gave Business Voice WM the opportunity to appear
before it on 12 October.
1.2 Further to the Chairman's invitation
to provide further clarification in addition to the evidence we
have presented to the Committee, this supplementary submission
is intended to provide additional details of our stance that we
trust would be of benefit to the Committee.
2.1 Local authorities are an important component
of the local economy. Its' ability to harness the human and financial
capital of a locality to drive local economic growth is of great
value and we recognise that the strength of local government in
serving their local areas could be enhanced by the introduction
of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
2.2 However, LEPs can only operate on the
basis of their local nature in helping to drive local enterprise.
When it comes to addressing supply chain patterns or providing
services that need to take account of economies of scale, LEPson
their ownare ineffective in helping to develop the UK economy.
2.3 Therefore, we propose a mechanism is
needed as LEPs can come together in the interests of the common
good in order to address the business efficiencies that need to
be made across complex supply chains in order for economic growth
in each locality to be sustained and developed.
2.4 In addition, such a mechanism can also
address a plethora of issues that, due to the local dynamics of
LEPs, cannot be addressed at a local level as there are a number
of functions that can only be delivered effectively through co-ordination
across LEPs because they intrinsically straddle LEP boundaries
or are otherwise unlikely to be successful with purely local delivery
2.5 These functions are explored in more
depth in the submission we have sent to the Government which the
Committee has seen. In essence these functions can be summarised
Innovation and Technology Transfer.
High level and specialist skills.
2.6 We support the Government in its assessment
that economic development structures should be business led. It
is business that will drive the economy out of this economic downturn
and, while local authorities have a role to play, business leadership
is necessary for ensuring a focus on the economy remains.
3.1 As the evidence presented to the Committee
on 12 October demonstrated, there was near unanimity from most
witnesses in the two sessions for some form of collaboration across
LEPs to exist.
3.2 Therefore the debate seemed to be now
focusing on whether such collaboration should be given direction
or whether collaboration should evolve.
3.3 We believe that in the current economic
environment, when the economic conditions in the West Midlands
are particularly serious, whether or not predictions of a double
dip recession prove to be correct, there is not the time or space
to wait for an evolutionary process to develop.
3.4 LEPs need to work together urgently
if global economic shocks hit the aerospace and automotive sectors,
for instance. Active co-operation between LEPs and with the Government
would be required in such an eventuality so that the number of
potential job losses could be minimised and action can be implemented
as quickly as possible to help sectors weather a potential bear
market and put in place interventions so that the foundations
for growth can be laid. An evolutionary approach would delay the
need for such urgent collaboration to take place in a timely manner.
4.1 Further to the question from Mr Nadhim
Zahawi regarding the financial figures contained in our submission
to the Government, may we clarify that the figures cited in the
document do not refer to a request for new resources from the
Government. Instead, we propose that a small proportion of existing
public funds could be utilised.
4.2 Specifically, the figures refer to an
estimate of the administrative element of strategic business support
that the Government has suggested should be led nationally. We
propose, along with the majority of witnesses, that strategic
business support, such as the Manufacturing Advisory Service and
the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, should be led and delivered in
the respective sub national areas.
4.3 In the case of the West Midlands, we
believe that if this happened, this element for administrative
support for such programmes can also be used to provide the basis
for a mechanism to enable collaboration across LEPs to take place.
5.1 We are concerned that the Government
has set a deadline of 30 December for bids to access the Regional
Growth Fund. To assist councils and businesses in preparing their
bids for funding, we would suggest that it would be helpful if
the deadline was extended, to enable bids to be prepared in the
full knowledge of the Government's stance on LEPs and the publication
of the Sub National Growth White Paper.
6.1 We believe that there is talent relating
to many of the responsibilities of the Regional Development Agency
which should be preserved and it is currently unclear how this
should happen. It is paramount that this matter is resolved.
6.2 In addition, the issue of the transfer
of assets from the RDAs to LEPs is still to be finalised, including
whether LEPs would have to carry the burden of some assets which
may, because of the current market conditions, be in negative
6.3 These matters should be addressed urgently
in order for a renewed focus on business growth to occur as we
are concerned that until such matters are addressed a debate on
structures will divert attention and resources away from addressing
the economic downturn.
20 October 2010