Delivering local growth:
Where next for Local Enterprise Partnerships?

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have come a long way since their inception in 2010.   The LEPs may all have started out from different points and evolved at different speeds, but as a group they are now firmly established as the lead agencies for promoting local growth. LEPs can’t solve all the problems facing local economies but as a group, they have demonstrated they can make a difference.

The challenge ahead will be to see through their plans and programmes and deliver their economic strategies.  Some of the LEPs, however, are arguably under-powered and under-resourced for the tasks they face and their immediate. Despite their varying capabilities and limited core funding they will all have to ensure that public and private funds are spent effectively and deliver results in terms of improved productivity and local economic growth.

Our Talking Points with the Smith Institute draws on interviews with 22 LEP leaders (mainly chairs and chief Executives) and a briefing event hosted at the LEP Annual Conference in March 2015 to explore ‘where next’ for Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Tough questions

…for LEPs

  • Can the LEPs keep their differences and continue to develop at different speeds?
  • Are there too many LEPs, and if so how might they merge?
  • Do the LEPs have the capacity and capability they need to deliver on their plans?
  • What new funding tools (and freedoms) would help LEPs become more self-reliant?
  • Do LEPs really need more powers, and if so, what should they be?
  • How can the LEPs better connect with national policies and big national infrastructure projects?

…for government

  • Can Whitehall let go and sign up to a truly single funding pot?
  • What will it take to get central government departments to be more joined-up on local growth?
  • Where is the relationship with local government heading?
  • Will Combined Authorities change the city-region LEPs, and what will this mean?
  • How can the LEPs be made more accountable for the decision-making and delivery of public funds?
  • What extra responsibilities should the LEPs take on?