Business secretary Vince Cable has confirmed that 24 new local entperise partnerships will be given the green light in the first wave of devolution of eocnomic development powers to England’s regions and cities.
In a statement to Parliament he said the first wave LEPs would help drive forward the government’s ambition to “create a fairer and more balanced economy – one that is driven by private sector growth with business opportunities spread more evenly across the country and between industries”.
Mr Cable said: “I was delighted that so many of the proposals for local enterprise partnerships showed real imagination and initiative and a genuine desire to drive local economic growth. I am pleased to announce that we are asking 24 of these partnerships to set up their boards and get to work.
“The knowledge and expertise of the private sector, local authorities and their local communities will be crucial as we work to create a better environment for business and ensure that everyone has access to the opportunities that growth brings.”
The successful bids, chosen from 62 submitted to government, are as follows:
- Birmingham & Solihull with E. Staffordshire, Lichfield & Tamworth
- Cheshire and Warrington
- Coast to Capital
- Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly
- Coventry & Warwickshire
- Gt. Cambridge & Gt. Peterborough
- Greater Manchester
- Kent, Greater Essex & East Sussex
- Leeds City Region
- Leicester & Leicestershire
- Liverpool City Region
- Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby, & Derbyshire
- Oxfordshire City Region
- Sheffield City Region
- S.E. Midlands
- Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire
- Tees Valley
- Thames Valley Berkshire
- The Marches
- West of England
A map of the approved local enterprise partnerships is available here.
See more on the successful LEPs here.
In the debate following the announcement, the government was accused of slashing funding for regional growth with the new £1.4bn fund dismissed as a “pathetic fig leaf” by Labour.
Mr Cable said the £1.4bn would be available over the next three years “to encourage private sector investment across England, providing support with significant potential for private sector led economic growth and sustainable employment”.
He added: “Support will be provided in particular for bids from those English communities which are currently dependent on the public sector so as to help them make the transition to sustainable private sector led growth.”
But shadow business secretary John Denham said the plan was a “shambles” and the result of “reckless” cuts.
“This statement cuts the resources for regional development by at least two-thirds,” he said. “RDAs will receive about £1.4bn this year. The regional growth fund will have £1.4bn over three years.”
He added: “The regional growth fund is a pathetic fig leaf to cover the absence of any growth strategy.”