Thursday, 2 June 2011

LEPs: what does success look like?

We have 34 LEPs in place and 12 Boards appointed (all with private sector Chair’s) http://www.bis.gov.uk/policies/economic-development/leps/lep-contact-details with more to follow.

The next job is prioritisation of issues and identifying what it is the LEP will do.  Any of us who have seen a central government presentation on LEPs will have got the message loud and clear that LEPs should focus on a few priorities and have an impact. 

Many LEPs will be using their local authority produced (recently completed) Local Economic Assessment (and other evidence) as well as capacity funding to understand local issues.  The LEP will not be able to tackle all of the issues.  It will have to focus. 

Strategic local issues will be the priority, for example: infrastructure; transport; broadband; sector prioritisation; nuclear, international trade / exports, new business formation, renewables etc obviously this will be different for each LEP and will depend upon if an area is for example a city region, rural, one county or many, demographics etc BUT also what can a LEP hope to influence and what funding / other resources might be available to do this.

So this brings me to the question of who will be doing the delivery?  There is no point of having strategic objectives if you cannot deliver these objectives (or at least influence others to deliver your objectives).

I have been doing some thinking about how the strategic objectives and delivery fit together.  How will a LEP prove it’s ‘successful’ if it doesn’t deliver anything?  But should LEPs be involved in delivery? 

Perhaps the answers to these questions will be different depending upon which LEP you are in…

As Local Authorities are on LEP Boards (generally a 50/50 public private split) it seems that they will be the / a delivery vehicle?  The interest on LinkedIn (numerous groups including ‘Local Enterprise Partnerships’ and ‘From RDA to LEP’) and Communities of Practice http://www.communities.idea.gov.uk/welcome.do especially ‘Local Enterprise Partnership’ group have high public sector interest.  This is where the LA officers share best practice, presumably this is then used to inform LEP Board reports.   The relationship between the public and private sector within the LEP (outside of the Board) does not seem to be clear.  Events about LEPs don’t seem to satisfy both audiences.  The public sector is engaged (economic development and others) as it is their job, but there is a long way to go to ensure business is engaged (businesses need to know how to do this, what is required from them and what they get out of it). 

LEPs do not and were never intended to replace RDAs entirely.  The LEP role is not yet fixed and it is likely that their role is still to develop with more policy areas coming under their remit e.g. transport?

Interest in LEPs is high but for many different reasons.  There needs to be strategic coordination (LEP chairs to meet to discover opportunities for synergy and to raise issues to BIS etc) and well as practitioner coordination (who is doing what well and how).  This is difficult in a competitive environment.

Individual LEP success will be about if they achieve their (local) objectives. 

For now:

  • Understand your local area (using evidence)
  • Prioritise the local issues
  • Define the LEPs objectives
  • Communicate and involve the private sector in this process
  • Deliver or facilitate delivery to impact on these objectives
  • Check what other LEPs are doing (not just your geographical neighbours), are there any opportunities here?

Many of you will have given this more thought.  Do Share.

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