The 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England have so far been allocated £9.1 billion through Growth Deals to drive economic growth in their local areas, with another £3 billion allocated via other means. We welcome the improvements to LEP governance and transparency since we last examined these issues, but there is still a long way to go for all LEPs to reach the rigorous standards we expect. We remain concerned that LEP boards are not yet representative of their local areas and business communities and that local scrutiny and accountability arrangements are not strong enough considering the significant sums of public funding that LEPs manage.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (the Department) is ultimately responsible for securing value for money for taxpayer funding which LEPs manage. But its decision not to evaluate the Local Growth Fund means it has no understanding of what impact spending through LEPs has on local economic growth. LEPs have also continued to underspend their local growth funding allocations every year since 2015–16, calling into question their capacity to deliver the complex projects they said were critical to economic growth in their areas.
Published: 5 July 2019