Thursday, October 28, 2010

LEP falls short

An announcement is due later today on the progress of the Local Enterprise Partnership schemes, but the noises coming from the BIS are less than positive. Vince Cable, now a full-time resident of a fantasy world, told a parliamentary committee
We are not providing a budget for LEPs. They can bid for money from the RGF. We don’t envisage large start up costs with offices funded by government. Those days are over.
Although the mood music on this has changed and it looks as though the Regional Growth Fund will pass money down to the LEP, even if it only has £500m a year over the next three years to spend nationally. With local authorities facing annual cuts of 7%, they will focus on their statutory duties to the exclusion of the 'nice to have' items - will they be willing to put staff to work on starting the LEP? Businesses will be willing to lead on developing an organisation with real power to deliver, but these LEPs are starting to emerge as toothless talking shops with no delivery mechanism.

But what of the assets of the RDAs? The gameplan seems to be that the government will assume ownership and dispose of them to defray the cost of the liabilities. Ironically, Allister Hayman at the Local Government Chronicle reckons that once you add the cost of these liabilities into the costs of the RGF, you get a figure not a million miles away from the costs of continuing the RDAs over the next few years.

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