The future of the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) has become a topic of hot debate. But the views of those that have come out either in favour or against have sometimes bordered on the ideological rather than being based on the evidence. We think the ‘scrap versus keep’ the RDAs debate is just too simplistic.
In this, the first of two opinion pieces, we will begin a discussion of the future of the RDAs by laying out the facts. We return to the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) evaluation report of March 2009 to highlight the numbers behind the RDAs and to assess their effectiveness thus far. This report was commissioned by BERR, the department responsible for the RDAs, in 2007.
This is an important exercise for three reasons. Firstly, we want to set out the facts from the report – we suspect that few people have actually read the evaluation and that some of the impacts it finds may be overstated. Secondly, in the current spending environment the Government needs to look closely at the effectiveness of all areas of spending. Finally, there is a tendency to over exaggerate the importance of the RDAs, which account for less than one percent of public expenditure in the regions.
A further opinion piece will outline the current positions of the three main political parties and set out our proposals for the future of the RDAs and their programme funding.
Senior Consultant, City Economics at Arup