When Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) were first announced nearly a year ago, few would have predicted how they would establish themselves at the heart of the Government’s growth policy. Until recently LEPs lacked power, and were expected to have real influence only where local circumstances permitted. But the mood has changed quickly and LEPs have taken centre-stage, equipped with real financial powers through the Enterprise Zones policy.
With LEPs becoming increasingly important to the overall success of the Government’s growth policy, now is the right time to assess their progress. We need to know what role they will really play. Can they deal with rising expectations without being overwhelmed? Do they have the powers they need to make a real difference to local economic growth? Will business be convinced enough to get involved? Will LEPs be more than just talking shops and issuers of rubber stamps? Time is short, and if LEPs aren’t demonstrating that they’re making a difference in the next 6 months, they’ll struggle to regain the business confidence that is crucial to making LEPs work.
Senior Consultant, City Economics at Arup