Local Enterprise Partnerships – what are they and why do we care?

19th October, 2018

Inspired by (and using some material from an email a colleague recently received from Beauhurst) I blog below on Local Enterprise Partnerships.

A bit of history (a recap)

In England, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are voluntary partnerships between local authorities and businesses set up in 2011 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to help determine local economic priorities and lead economic growth and job creation within the local area.

They carry out some of the functions previously carried out by the regional development agencies which were abolished in March 2012.

The role of the LEP

They act as coordinators within their regions, seeking to get all parties who play a part in local enterprise in a position to work together effectively and efficiently.  Parties can include companies of any size and stage of evolution. From large multinationals with existing or planned operations in the area, to start-ups who are key in bringing new products to the market and disrupting old business models. Other relevant parties include organisations like universities (whose research labs are important sources of innovation and intellectual capital), funders and corporate financiers (who help determine flows of investment into the local region).

Partnership with local governments is key to the LEP network, as they formulate policies and decisions which could have clear implications for local business. The aim of a LEP is to ensure that coordination between these parties helps build a thriving economy which is capable of competing on a higher level, both regionally and nationally.

Currently

There are 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships across England and the locations/ geographical coverage of each can be viewed here, which will also take you through to an individual LEP’s webpage.

Why do we care?

We care because as stated above, “they formulate policies and decisions which could have clear implications for local business.”  Some of the key projects driven by the LEPs are listed here and each LEP was responsible for the appointment of the Growth Hubs operating in their regions.

Personally, if the LEPs remain in place (I am not suggesting they will be abolished, merely stating that we live in a world of few certainties) I can only see them becoming more important as UK government monies replace European funds for development for example, presumably they will be bidding in for funds as was the case for Growth Deal Three.

I would suggest that those businesses who want to have their voice heard need to get the ear of the LEP either directly or indirectly through for example their local Chamber etc.

We have had some engagement over the years with the LEPs in the areas where we have offices.  For example, I know that colleagues were involved in the evolution of what is now Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund and both the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly LEP and the Heart of the South West LEP have been regular contributors to our ‘Finance in’ events.  We will be continuing to try and keep abreast of developments at LEPs across our patch – particularly for me, those developments involving funds for business.

We shall also be following the evolution of the LEPs in our region response to the success of the success of the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine – the ‘Great South West’.

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