By Claire West

Small businesses are set to be at the heart of the newly created local enterprise partnerships following a meeting between the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) earlier this week.

The coalition Government has announced that local enterprise partnerships will replace the recently abolished Regional Development Agencies in England. The FSB welcomed the new set up it, but had voiced concerns that small and micro businesses would not be heard locally. So it is welcome news that the FSB — the leading representative of the small business sector — is to be a key business partner with local enterprise partnerships.

It is well known that small firms are the engine room of the UK economy and the job creators in the country with more than 84 per cent of new jobs created recently by small businesses.

Mike Cherry, Policy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“Small businesses must not be ignored and it is crucial that their voice is heard in the newly established Local Enterprise Partnerships, so it is fantastic news that the FSB is going to be the key business partner. While we welcome the creation of these new bodies, we all know that the 4.8 million small firms are the engine room of the economy and the key to creating jobs and so must play a vital role in these new groupings.

“It is crucial, during this time of economic uncertainty, that the influence of the small business community continues to be felt at local and regional level. We are working closely with the Coalition Government on putting LEPs in place and we want to ensure that the new entities will deliver results so that small firms have the ability to grow and develop, and ultimately boost local economies.”

The Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, added:

"We want to urgently rebuild and rebalance local economies without strangling businesses with red tape so that new economic opportunities spread across the country.
"That means the solution needs to be local. I was delighted to meet with and hear the views of the FSB as they have a central role to play, working hand in hand with local leaders, to develop and deliver new local enterprise partnerships that will make the economy responsive to the needs of local business and local people."