Local enterprise 'will need govt support'

Manchester city centre: The government's 'local enterprise partnerships' are set to replace the scrapped RDAs
Manchester city centre: The government's 'local enterprise partnerships' are set to replace the scrapped RDAs

By politics.co.uk staff

The government's plans to replace Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) with 'local enterprise partnerships' (LEPs) need a rethink, the business, innovation and skills committee said in its report published today.

Although the committee said the new LEPs may help in "opening up roads to local growth", it warned that during the transition from the old RDAs, they will require at least some government money before they can become self-sustaining.

Adrian Bailey MP, chair of the committee said of LEPs: "At the moment they are an unproven innovation.


"To succeed, LEPs will need the powers and recognition required to give substance to their visions for turning local economies around."

Know-how and expertise from the RDAs which are set to be scrapped within this parliament should also be retained, the report suggested.

The MPs went further to recommend that the RDAs should continue in some form in certain areas, claiming "the democratically expressed wishes of local businesses to retain regional coordination should be respected where they are clearly manifested."

The coalition's plans for LEPs have been criticised for depriving regional projects and companies of funding just as they are demanded to lead economic recovery.

But ministers are adamant that the new Regional Growth Fund, a pot of £1.4 billion, will redress the balance and make local planning more accountable than what they argue are remote regional bodies.

Mr Bailey concluded that there were "substantial challenges to central and local government, LEPs and the business community, but the economic prize is too important for them not to meet those challenges head on."

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