LEPs are “vital” in devolution deals to accelerate £16bn of private sector investment

By Anita Jaynes on October 10, 2015

Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEPs) must keep a central role in the developing devolution landscape, if they are to realise the potential leverage of £16bn from private sector investors, and help business create 750,000 new jobs by 2021 the LEP Summit heard today.

The 39 LEPs in England, all led by business, are working with local partners on devolution deals aimed at accelerating economic growth and creating new jobs. LEPs know economic geographies well and their private sector leadership is delivering solutions that meet business needs.

Opening the LEP Summit, Baroness Williams of Trafford, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:

“LEPs have forged excellent relationships between local businesses and local government that have added significant economic value in local economies across England.  With LEPs on course to deliver £16 billion in private investment and 750,000 new jobs in the next five years, they play a vital role in unlocking economic growth and creating jobs.

“Business led LEPs will continue to have a critical role in shaping and implementing devolution deals.  Of the 38 devolution proposals received so far, by far the strongest are those which have the clear support of their local business community.”

A report earlier this month by the manufacturers organisation EEF, who joined the devolution panel at the LEP Summit, called for the Devolution Bill to give greater powers and an “enhanced role” to Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Recently, local government think tank Localis published research on the role of LEPs in devolution. It showed that, if LEPs get the devolution they have requested, England could be contributing an extra £144bn a year to the economy by 2020. They pointed to an English economy worth £1,600bn if the present level of devolution is maintained, but if LEPs get the powers and funds that they have requested from central government, the English economy is expected to be worth £1,744bn by 2020.

Barry Dennington, chair of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“As a Local Enterprise Partnership we are a bridge between the public and private sectors, which makes us well placed to drive economic growth in our area. At the SWLEP we are focused on pushing forward innovation across a range of sectors, which we believe will be a real economic driver for Swindon and Wiltshire. This summit is a good opportunity for us to learn more about how LEPS can play an important role in the economic future of the regions, and devolution is clearly going to be an important part of that future.”

The 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships in England bring the Private and Public Sectors together to drive local economic growth from the bottom up. The LEP Network links these 39 bodies through their Chairs and Executives, with the aim of sharing best practice and learning across LEPs to maximise the impact of the network as a whole. We act further as a two-way conduit with Central Government on network-wide strategic issues relating to the generation of more jobs and growth in the economy.