Proposals for 24 local enterprise partnerships were given the go ahead by the Government yesterday.
Ministers also declared the £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund open for business. This follows the confirmation of the closure of the Regional Development Agencies in the Budget. The RDAs are expected to cease activity by March 2012.
The government hopes the Regional Growth Fund will support the creation of private sector jobs and support communities bracing themselves for a wave of public sector job losses.
Commenting on the proposals, which form part of a White Paper on local growth, the Business Secretary, Vince Cable said: “I was delighted that so many of the proposals for local enterprise partnerships showed real imagination and initiative and a genuine desire to drive local economic growth. I am pleased to announce that we are asking 24 of these partnerships to set up their boards and get to work.
“The knowledge and expertise of the private sector, local authorities and their local communities will be crucial as we work to create a better environment for business and ensure that everyone has access to the opportunities that growth brings.
“The measures set out in today’s White Paper demonstrate the Coalition’s ambition to create a fairer and more balanced economy – one that is driven by private sector growth with business opportunities spread more evenly across the country and between industries.”
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said: “The Spending Review made radical changes to way local government is funded, putting the local and the government back into Local Government.
“Now this White Paper paves the way for local authorities to drive growth in their own communities, delivering on our promise to give power back to the people”
The Local Growth Plan also sets out new ways of increasing confidence to invest by creating incentives for Local authorities in England to promote business growth, including:
• looking at proposals for local authorities to keep the business rates they collect locally, reducing central redistribution;
• a new system of Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which will enable local authorities to borrow against future increases in business rate revenues;
• a new simple and streamlined planning system, which will give communities and neighbourhoods more power over decisions, increase investor certainty and help international businesses locate, move within or stay in the UK.
The White Paper also sets out the timetable and further criteria for the operation of the newly-launched £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund. The fund will provide focused investment for projects that offer significant potential for private sector-led economic growth and sustainable employment. First round bids for funding are requested by 21 January 2011.
Lord Heseltine will Chair the Independent Advisory Panel, which will consider all bids submitted to the fund and make recommendations to Ministers on which to approve. Lord Heseltine will be supported by Deputy Chair, Sir Ian Wrigglesworth and a panel of academics, business and civic leaders.