Yesterday, following the Coalition Government’s Spending Review, Mr Pickles published a letter to the Leaders of Local Authorities in England. Whilst only providing a sneak preview of future changes that will occur in local government, it does, however, reveal some interesting gems of information.
In particular, we note that Mr Pickles has said that councils and civic leaders will be in the “driving seat” of Local Enterprise Partnerships (“LEPs”). Although the government has kept its cards close to its chest on the role and function of LEPs, this statement from Mr Pickles will come as a surprise to local businesses and private sector who it was previously thought would be in this role.
In some ways this seems to undermine the point of LEPs which were to encourage a genuine 50/50 partnership between the public and private sectors to provide strategic leadership in their areas and set local economic priorities to promote economic and business growth. Hopefully, when further details of LEPs comes out in the promised local growth White Paper, we will see exactly how LEPs will function.
However, the good news from the Spending Review itself, is that LEPs will be able to bid for funding from the newly introduced Regional Growth Fund (worth £1.4 billion). It appears that this fund itself will be linked with the European Regional Development Fund to ‘maximise impact’.
If you have any thoughts on the above or the Spending Review in general, we would be very interested to hear from you!