England's regional development agencies (RDAs) have had a limited economic impact since their formation eight years ago, is the conclusion of a report published this week from the manufacturers organisation - EEF.
The report concludes that while RDAs have boosted some aspects of urban regeneration, there is no evidence of them significantly boosting the UK's economic performance over the past 8 years much of which has been driven by increasing employment.
The report suggests that the measurement of the performance of RDAs concentrates too much on aggregate outputs, with statistics like “employment safeguarded” and number of people “assisted to get a job” and not enough on the change that happens as a result of the outputs (i.e. outcomes).
It also highlights the inconsistency of the inclusion in RDA performance assessment of three outputs on skills – an area where RDAs have very little influence and, unsurprisingly where all nine have failed to meet their minimum targets.
The study compared economic growth over the six years prior to the RDAs' creation with the following six years. It found that, with the exception of the North-East and the East Midlands, there was little acceleration in economic growth in the regions after the RDAs were set up. Indeed the report points out that in the south east Gross Value Added (GVA) per head has actually declined. Despite this RDAs consistently exceed the government outputs set for them by a large measure (with the notable exception of skills).
The director-general of EEF Martin Temple said: "While the RDAs have made a difference in some key respects, so far there has been little significant impact on our regional economies."
The report calls for the RDAs to focus on boosting regional productivity and competitiveness in the long-term and for them to work more collaboratively across RDA boundaries.
For a copy of the report click on the link below
Improving Performance – A review of RDAs
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