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New minister in growth call

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New local government minister Brandon Lewis has called for the government to give more powers and money to fledgling local enterprise partnerships to help boost the economy.

In one of his last acts as a backbench MP, Mr Lewis launched a 12-point plan to revitalise LEPs, warning that without greater powers and freedoms they would not be successful in kick-starting economic growth.

Mr Lewis chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on local growth, which is facilitated by Westminster City Council. The group’s 12-point plan included a commitment for the government to “commit to providing a modest amount of core funding to LEPs in order to ensure that they have a basic level of staffing and the ability to act independently and balance local interests”.

The report also called on the government to make a commitment to negotiate a fresh wave of ‘local growth deals’ with devolved funding and powers to LEP areas, and also to give LEPs a greater co-ordinating role on work and skills provision in their areas. In turn, LEPs should engage with a “broader spectrum of local businesses and with key sectors in the local economy, industry and the community”.

Mr Lewis was appointed a junior minister in the Department for Communities & Local Government last week, with responsibility for the local government brief.

Launching the report, following his appointment, Mr Lewis said: “Much has been achieved but the findings of this report show that there are clearly still gaps and weaknesses that all parties including government must address as a matter of urgency,“ he said.

  • To read a comment piece by Westminster City Council’s head of strategy Giles Roca, click here
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