The Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership has called on government to act on Lord Heseltine’s report into UK growth policy.
Speaking at the launch of the Heseltine report ‘No Stone Unturned ‘ in Birmingham on Wednesday, LEP chair Neil McLean said the report included some bold, transformative proposals that he says would be a “step-change” in enabling places like Leeds City Region to take charge of their own economic destiny.
“The devolution of real powers and significant, flexible budgets to LEPs would cement the progress we have made with our City Deal, with future investment in all areas key to growth driven by local decisions and following local priorities,” he said.
“In the Leeds City Region we would also be confident in facing Lord Heseltine’s radical proposal of a competition between LEPs for this devolved funding,” McLean added. “Whether or not Government embraces that, I urge them to respond positively to the thrust of his recommendations to give LEPs extra flexibility and firepower to deliver on our ambitions.”
Leeds is the UK’s third largest centre for manufacturing accounting for around 152,000 jobs in advanced engineering, medical technology, food and drink, chemicals and printing. Fifty per cent of all UK manufacturing takes place within a two-hour drive of the city.
The following parts of the Heseltine Review were especially welcomed by the Leeds City Region:
- bringing together substantial amounts of government capital funding into a single pot to be made available to LEPs;
- simplification of the way EU funds are managed in England, with alignment of EU and non-EU funding to support local investment programmes;
- rationalisation of the Government’s presence outside Whitehall, with the creation of Local Growth Teams to work in partnership with LEPs on the development and implementation of their growth plans; and
- further enhancement of LEPs’ role in the prioritisation of skills funding.
The LEP remarked that the detail of the report, which contains some 89 separate recommendations, will need careful consideration both by central and local government. For example there are recommendations on complex issues relating to LEP boundaries, local government structures and electoral cycles that may prove challenging to implement.
Leeds City Region LEP is formed of 17 board members, including seven directors from the private sector. It was formed during the phase out of Yorkshire and Humber Regional Development Agency in 2011 and covers one of the largest areas LEP zones by GDP in the country.