England’s eight regional development agencies have lost nearly a quarter of their staff since the coalition government came to power fuelling concerns about a loss of economic development capacity outside London.
The figures, obtained by LGC show 672 of 2,813 staff have left since May 2010. Of those who have left, 363 have taken voluntary redundancy and a further 282 have resigned. The remainder were either made redundant or retired.
An RDA spokesman said the agencies were on a “closure footing” and that there would be another round of voluntary redundancies in the spring.
Ministers announced last summer that the RDAs would be scrapped by March 2012 and replaced by council and business-led local enterprise partnerships. However, the government does not plan to give the LEPs dedicated funding or powers.
Last month business minister Mark Prisk said he did not expect RDA staff to transfer to LEPs as they “are not necessarily expected to continue former RDA functions”.
The loss of capacity is causing concern in the regions. “The jury is very much out on LEPs in terms of what they will be able to do. In the meantime, we’re losing all the expertise that has been built up over the past 10 years,” a senior source in the north-east said.
Last week, Labour MP Jack Dromey tabled amendments to the Localism Bill, which were opposed by the government, that would put LEPs on a statutory footing to ensure they received the powers and resource needed to make a difference in their local areas. It also proposed that LEPs should have first refusal on RDA assets.
|RDA||Total staff reduction May 2010 - Feb 2011||% Change|