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Government unveils growth plans

The government’s white paper on ‘local growth’ contains the names of 24 local enterprise partnerships (LEP) which will replace the soon-to-be-abolished regional development agencies

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (see attached) describes the self-funding LEPs as being able to ‘bring together business and civic leaders to set the strategy and take the decisions that will allow their area to prosper’.

A full list of the successful LEPs, announced by Vince Cable earlier today (28 October), is listed below. However there is already anger in some areas such as Lancashire where none of its three LEP-bids, representing Blackpool & Fylde Coast; Pennine Lancashire and Central Lancashire, have been shortlisted.

The British Property Federation has welcomed the plans, which it describes as ‘radical’.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: ‘It’s extremely positive to see ministers giving thought to a more substantial re-localisation of business rates, something that would free councils from government grant and give them a real financial reward for approving development that generates economic activity and creates new jobs.’

Once established, the partnerships will be able to make funding applications to the new £1.4 regional growth fund, which was also rolled out today, although the government has made it clear LEPs ‘will not receive preferential treatment against bids from other private or public-private partnerships’.

This fund will run over three years, boasts ‘no internal ring-fences’ and welcomes bids for programme as well as project funding. The minimum threshold for bids will be set at £1million. The first round of bidding is already open and will close in January 2011.

The white paper also sets out plans for a New Homes Bonus starting in 2011-12. The scheme, billed as ‘a simple, powerful, transparent and permanent feature of the local government finance system’, will match fund the additional council tax for each new home and property brought back into use, for each of the six years after that home is built.

Central government will help establish the scheme with support of £196 million in the first year and £250 million for each of the following three years.

In response Phil Orford, the chief exectuive of the not-for-profit Forum of Private Business, said: ‘We welcome the fact that LEPs have been agreed upon for the main city regions and economic powerhouses.

‘However, we now look forward to a focus being placed on other areas of economic need with advice from the Government to those who need to re-bid.

He added: ‘We also believe that the £1.4 billion growth fund should be focused on the areas of greatest need and innovative and transformational private sector bids for funding should be welcomed and encouraged.’

Successful LEPs

1 Birmingham & Solihull with E. Staffordshire, Lichfield & Tamworth
2 Cheshire and Warrington
3 Coast to Capital
4 Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly
5 Coventry & Warwickshire
6 Cumbria
7 Great Cambridge & Great Peterborough
8 Greater Manchester
9 Hertfordshire
10 Kent, Greater Essex & East Sussex
11 Leeds City Region
12 Leicester & Leicestershire
13 Lincolnshire
14 Liverpool City Region
15 Nottingham, Nottinghamshire,
Derby & Derbyshire
16 Oxfordshire City Region
17 Sheffield City Region
18 Solent
19 South East Midlands
20 Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire
21 Tees Valley
22 Thames Valley Berkshire
23 The Marches
24 West of England

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