The New Local Enterprise Partnerships: An Initial Assessment - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

Further written evidence from the Local Government Association

  I am grateful to the Committee for asking me to provide oral evidence on behalf of the Local Government Association to the inquiry into local enterprise partnerships earlier this month.

  The Committee asked if there were issues upon which we would like to submit supplementary evidence. There are three.


  Firstly, I would like to emphasise the importance that local government attaches to local enterprise partnerships acting as the strategic decision making body in the area for the key decisions that underpin economic performance. The proposal put forward by the Black Country, for example, is multi-dimensional and far more ambitious than simply looking to be a business-support mechanism. Many other proposals for LEPs call for the devolution of responsibility for the decisions on economic development, skills, employment support, business support, transport, other infrastructure and in some cases housing—all areas intrinsically linked with the economic development of an area. The ability to take these decisions on these issues together in co-ordinated way, to fit with local economic needs, will maximise the economic impact of LEPs and ensure their abilities to plan strategically.


  Secondly, there will need to be co-ordination between local enterprise partnerships. Whilst functional economic geography is important, it is not an exact science. Local enterprise partnerships will need to manage the economic issues that straddle their boundaries. The precise arrangements for co-ordinating local enterprise partnerships will vary from place to place, depending on the precise nature of the cross boundary issues—in some places and for some issues this may require a degree of regional co-ordination, which has been recognised, for example, by councils in the North East. At my own council, Dudley, there is an all-party agreement on the need for local LEPs to coordinate activities at a level above or beyond themselves and this is something that LEPs must be free to coordinate and take forward.


  Thirdly, it will be important for local enterprise partnerships to have the funding and financial flexibility to help drive forward economic growth in their economies. I therefore welcome the financial flexibilities announced in Liverpool by the Deputy Prime Minister which will give local authorities the freedom to borrow against business rates.

24 September 2010

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