Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

MPs: LEPs need long-term funding

A committee of MPs welcomed money given to the LEPs in England for the next two financial years
A committee of MPs welcomed money given to the LEPs in England for the next two financial years

The Government has been urged to set long-term funding for local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) to help regional economies grow.

A committee of MPs welcomed money given to the LEPs in England for the next two financial years, but said the timescale was too short to allow long-term investments to be made.

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee said levels of funding should be set for the five years from 2015.

Committee chairman Adrian Bailey, the Labour MP for West Bromwich West, said LEPs helped to drive local economic growth, which impacted on the national economy, adding: "They are expected to deliver long-term growth. To do this they require the confidence to make long-term investments. The current funding commitments fail to provide this."

Mr Bailey said shared responsibility for LEPs between two government departments - business and communities and local government - had led to "confusion", suggesting that one minister should be responsible for their work.

LEPs replaced Regional Development Agencies in 2010.

Roger Salomone of the EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, commented: "This report highlights the key issue of value for money. We cannot devolve major decisions on public expenditure and just assume that they will deliver better outcomes simply because they are being taken more locally.

"If LEPs take on significant new responsibilities, their performance and use of taxpayers' money must be subject to rigorous scrutiny."

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