The Institute for Economic Development [IED] warns that Local Enterprise Partnerships [LEPs] are facing "institutional oblivion" and places the blame squarely on the government.
The IED report published yesterday states that LEPs have been set an "unrealistic" challenge because, unlike the Regional Development Agencies that they replaced, they do not have "genuine policy and delivery clout in terms of legislation, powers and resources".
The report - Local Enterprise Partnerships: Living up to the Hype? - concludes: "Without a better direct deal between government and LEPs . . . . . business input will dissipate and the hype will vanish leaving LEPs susceptible to institutional oblivion."
The report also states that central government funding for LEPs – an average of about £237,000 over a four-year period – is "clearly insufficient".
The report recommends:
- dedicated government funding, including staffing, until income streams from enterprise zones start to generate money for LEPs. But, of course, not all LEPs have an enterprise zone e.g. Coast to Capital, so this is a source of funding denied to them.
- better inter-departmental government support. The report suggests that the Department for Work and Pensions has at best an "ambivalent" attitude towards LEPs
- better local authority cross-boundary leadership and less local and party political "bickering" between council members on LEP boards
- more commitment and leadership from businesses
The report isn't entirely negative citing Leeds City Region LEP as one of the larger ‘refashioned’ partnerships, which is leading the way with focus, business planning and engagement.
Joint work between the Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and North Eastern LEP in organising a strategic role for the north, on high speed rail, low carbon economy, skills and innovation, was also highlighted as an example of good practice.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills [BIS] said, "LEPs are developing strong business and civic partnerships and are undertaking valuable work in setting local priorities which really address barriers to growth in their areas. [They] are not intended to replace Regional Development Agencies. They are locally led bodies, driven by local economic circumstances and priorities."
Read related items on:
Local Enterprise Partnership
Coast to Capital LEP
Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
Institute for Economic Development