By Daniel Hunter

The government is calling on Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England and local authorities in Scotland and Wales to identify their economic priorities in disadvantaged local areas.

This information will help the government to produce the 2014-2020 Assisted Areas Map. Assisted Areas are locations where regional aid to support businesses can be offered by public authorities under EU legislation.

Local priorities gathered in this consultation process will inform the development of a draft Assisted Area Map, which will be published as part of a second consultation in the winter. The final Map will come into force from July 2014 after it has been agreed by UK Ministers and the European Commission. The current 2007-2013 Map will remain in effect until 30 June 2014.

“Assisted Area status is important to get right as it can provide additional economic support for places that need it the most — encouraging businesses to grow, innovate and thrive," Business Minister Michael Fallon said.

“Local leaders and businesses are best placed to know what’s needed in their area, so that’s why we want their views.”

In England, LEPs are already working on Strategic Economic Plans, or Growth Deals, which enable LEPs to negotiate with central government for wider powers and influence over the key interventions to promote growth, including for a share of a £2 billion-a-year Single Local Growth Fund. Alongside this they are leading on the development of strategies on how the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme will be best used in their local areas. It is expected that understanding priorities for Assisted Areas status will go hand in hand with this work.

The Scottish and Welsh Governments will have key roles to play in choosing Assisted Areas in Scotland and Wales. Other stakeholders such as business and local development groups will also be encouraged to take part in this consultation.

The consultation will close on September 30.

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