Thursday, 6 October 2011

LEPs: what’s new, what’s next?

Government is committed to LEPs. The areas of white space have rapidly diminished, there are now 38 LEPs. With only two areas left to either become or join a LEP. See this map http://www.bis.gov.uk/policies/economic-development/leps

 Mission Creep
I have been challenged on what I meant by this in my last blog. For the avoidance of any doubt, I do think that each LEP will be different in approach, ambition and resources, and should be. I was referring to the possible increased scope of LEPs in what may be expected of them. For example the consultation around LEPs role in transport and possible DEFRA funding routes etc. Personally I can see positives and negatives with potential mission creep. The positives being LEPs will have a clearer and more defined role that is consistent across the country. This could also provide clearer 'hooks' for business to understand the role of LEPs, and to actually 'do' something especially in areas that don't have enterprise zones or regional growth fund, avoiding any whispers of LEPs being 'talking shops'. The negative side might be that LEPs actually become mini RDAs, one of the criticisms of RDAs is that they 'failed' because they took on / were given too large a remit. Often we hear BIS / DCLG talk about LEPs doing (only) 'three things well', with individual LEP priorities and enterprise zones (or Local Development Order), regional growth fund, memorandum of understanding with UKTI, LGRR and possible business rate retention, ongoing conversations with Business Link and other Departments utilising LEPs this seems increasingly unlikely.

In its simplest form are LEPs to be strategic or delivery bodies. Perhaps both and perhaps this will be different across the country.

Were are we
There are now 38 LEP which are all at different stages of development. LEPs are currently defining priorities (if they haven't already done so) and delivering against Start Up funding. I would assume all LEPs will have a Business plan, Trained Board, website (etc) by end march 2012. Obviously, some first round LEPs will also be doing a lot more than this.

 LEPs working together
Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond MP announced his intention to "launch a consultation on how the Government can put in place a structure to fully devolve decisions and funding for local capital transport improvements" from April 2015 to a number of "local transport consortia," each made up of a number of LEPs and their constituent local authorities. I have heard that DfT would be looking to work with 20-25 consortia – some LEPs would need to join up.

Apparently SEM, Oxon, Gtr Camb Gtr Pboro, Northants, Herts etc are all in potential transport consortium?

There are LEP sector groups being established, some of which have already met. For example there is a Rural Network and a National Automotive group. Soon there will also be one on aerospace.

LEP network
The LEP network newsletter is compulsory reading http://www.keb.org.uk/keb-files/LEP_Network_Newsletter_September_2011.pdf

The Website is soon to launch http://www.lepnetwork.org.uk/ and they are already on Twitter @TheLEPNetwork

Innovative LEP / other related activity
York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP have joint forces with banks to develop Certificate in Business Growth (CBG) http://deck.ly/~uDFgB and http://www.insidermedia.com/insider/yorkshire/59771-lep-launches-banks-partnership-project/

Green Investment bank location bids have been submitted by both Leeds and Bristol.

Information here on the New Enterprise Allowance http://t.co/JTSjxF2a to assist the unemployed to start a business

The County Councils Network newsletter 'County Beacon' has produced a special edition focusing on LEPs http://www.countycouncilsnetwork.org.uk/Documents/CountyBeaconSeptember2011.pdf  again essential reading.

Enterprise Zone information Packs link is here https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B5Vdxsrk2JSvZjU0NWZlMzYtMGFmNC00M2NmLTlkN2MtODA3MTI4NGIzYTM2&hl=en&pli=1

Using LDOs in Enterprise Zones information here https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B5Vdxsrk2JSvYmQyNGQxZjEtNjI3Yy00ZGZiLTliMjQtYjY1NGQ0YWZhYWZk&hl=en

For a quick intro to the Leeds City Region LEP, watch their film at: http://t.co/dFVGDDxp (Leeds seem to be leading the way with social media usage)

Both Cumbria and Gloucestershire LEPs have met with the Tourism sector. Perhaps a LEP will decide to take on a Tourism pathfinder role?

I am interested to see how the skills agenda links to LEPs and the role of Employment and Skills Boards (private sector led).

What's next
Greg Clark is now the cities minister, perhaps the City region LEPs are track to get more powers? David Owen @CEOGlosFirst recently tweeted that Minister Greg Clarke said "LEPs should 'do deals' with Govt for transfer of powers".

DCLG will help with LDOs including areas without Enterprise zones. It will be interesting to see if the 40% of LEPs without an Enterprise Zone may try to recreate one. Interesting given that Entrepreneurs have called for a UK-wide enterprise zone http://t.co/XqCxQeJf

Growing places fund £500m has been announced. This "Growing Places" fund is to support infrastructure projects that will support local growth priorities, unlock development and create jobs.
Further details are expected to follow soon...

The Second round of LEP Capacity Fund is due to start being spent on 1st April. BIS are currently thinking about what criteria will be applied to enable bidding. Those LEPs which were not around for the first round will still need the first round criteria and well as any additions.

New Anglia LEP lands 'green pathfinder' low carbon role http://t.co/QvmZR7lJ as mentioned above other pathfinders are expected.

There are 14 LEPs on twitter follow my list for more information @LornaGibbons/leps

I understand that there will be a meeting of all Enterprise Zone areas. It would also be really useful is BIS could include maps of all EZs on their website (some EZ maps can already be found on LEP websites). The BIS LEP web pages are very informative so look here http://www.bis.gov.uk/policies/economic-development/leps if you haven't yet had the chance to.

The 24th October is the deadline for consultation on rates retention http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/resourcereviewtechnicalpapers

Will there be a two tier LEP approach? For Example areas without Enterprise Zones will be disadvantaged. Some LEPs may have a strategic Focus other Delivery. City regions may excel due to government policy of assisting growth in areas where it can have most impact.

Need to manage expectations around speed of delivery. Much has been made of the RGF money not yet coming through, but given the necessary due diligence this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

How to measure LEP success?
I am not sure you that you can satisfactorily or what this might add as you can't compare like for like. Also LEPs have different priorities, etc and no money! But if we assume this will happen at some point, a useful way to look at it could be 'have they delivered what they said they were going to do'?

Will LEPs be 'allowed' to fail, merge, grow...?

Should LEPs should have targets? Maybe if you give them money to deliver something!

It could be useful to identify priorities in common, sector groups, national areas in common.

Comparisons of the City regions would be interesting. Especially if the recognition for potential for cities to drive growth really takes off.

This was a bit rushed so sorry for twitter like sentences!

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