Local Enterprise Partnerships making slow progress
By Maximilian Clarke
One year after the first 24 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)- the government’s flagship policy for delivering economic growth and decentralisation- were announced, a report concludes that they have struggled to make progress.
The report by the non-partisan charity, Centre for Cities, finds that 8 have yet to have their boards recognised by government, only two have produced a long-term strategic plan and five do not have a dedicated website. In some cases, LEPs have appointed huge boards and advisory teams; the South East LEP has 43 board members and the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP has 14 associated focus groups, with at least 160 people involved. This, the Centre argues, could add a level of bureaucracy and process that might slow decision-making.
"While a handful of LEPs are doing really well, many are struggling to come close to meeting the objectives that were set to them by government this time last year,” said Andrew Carter, Director of Policy and Research at Centre for Cities. “One of our biggest concerns is the spatial geography of some LEPs does not match the economic and political geography, creating real barriers to effective influence over local economies. This means that many of the LEPs seem to be falling at the first hurdle, before boards are recognised or strategies considered.
In addition to these issues, some LEPs also face mismatches between spatial geography and the political and economic reality and pressures of partnership working across new boundaries.
Centre for Cities argues that LEPs still have potential if the government acts now to empower them to meet the rising expectation that they will be primary drivers of the government’s growth agenda. The government needs to give capable LEPs the resources, powers and freedoms to take forward policies for local growth by devolving responsibility... continued on page two >