LEPs reset their priorities for the future
LEPs pressed the reset button on their future today following the LEP Review with a focus on digital economy, science and innovation and international trade, including a commitment to working with government to identify how LEPs can help deliver the UK digital strategy.
LEP business leaders gathered in London for the first time since the pandemic, and the conclusion of the government’s LEP Review, to identify their priorities for the future as they develop their delivery plans and some prepare to integrate into regional authorities.
They were joined by the Prime Minister’s Chief Business Advisor, Alex Hickman, and government ministers, including the Minister for Tech and Digital Economy, Chris Philp MP, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, George Freeman MP, Minister for Investment, Lord Grimstone, and Levelling Up minister Neil O’Brien MP.
A key priority is developing local digital economies, focusing on how LEPs will support delivery of the government’s UK Digital Strategy announced at Tech Week earlier this month. Part of that includes a commitment to working group with government to gauge how LEPs can build on the success of their Local Digital Skills partnerships amid an ambition to roll them out across the country.
Tech Minister Chris Philp MP said:
“Everyone should be able to get the skills needed to seize the benefits of new technology and forge a career in the UK's booming digital industries.
“This is at the heart of the Digital Strategy and Local Enterprise Partnerships will play a vital role in delivering it by helping to boost growth, jobs and opportunities in tech across the country."
LEPs are also putting their weight behind international trade opportunities and exploiting local economic strengths that boost innovation, where they have a strong card to play including:
- Where the Solent LEP has developed an innovative maritime cluster that drives a £5.8bn local maritime economy and puts the Solent at the heart of the world's marine sector. It triumphed at this year’s Maritime UK Awards winning a national award of Clean Maritime Enabler which recognises the investments the LEP has made to support green innovation in the region's maritime sector.
- Driving international trade opportunities with the likes of North East LEP, D2N2 LEP, and Enterprise M3 LEP working with the Department for International Trade and local stakeholders to utilise global markets that will drive local competitiveness, increase productivity, and create more and better jobs.
Glenn Bemment, Head of ESG (Sustainability and Regionalisation) at Lloyds Banking Group, our sponsors for today's conference said:
“For many years we’ve helped businesses, large and small, to thrive by supporting start-ups and providing finance for growing businesses. We build on this legacy by prioritising projects that have a broader impact on the areas in which they are based.
“Our Regional Development programme aims to improve social, economic and sustainability outcomes throughout the UK by directing and increasing investment and lending into lower income regions and communities. LEPs have always been an important partner and they continue to be integral in delivering job creation, workforce skills and growth. “
The focus on international trade includes LEPs forging closer ties with the Department for International Trade and Government Trade Envoys with a particular focus on exploiting LEP know how on green trade and agri-food technology, including the creation of high-value jobs and fuelling technological innovations that can be exported worldwide. LEPs are identifying key strategic priorities and actions to ensure that the business community can become more confident and active in overseas markets and identify a range of emerging markets that LEP area businesses can explore further with market requirements that match the strengths in the region
Chair of the LEP Network, Mark Bretton said:
“Today is about looking forward to what LEPs are going to achieve, and it marks a small milestone in their evolution for a number of reasons. It’s the first time we have met in person since the pandemic and the conclusion of the LEP review – both very challenging times for LEPs.
“But the tenacity and resilience of LEPs has proved they are a force to be reckoned with – today is the first day of their future. One that will focus on the big drivers that build local economies and boost productivity; increasing our technical and digital skills capability, forging new international trade opportunities, and, above all, translating our world leading research into the innovative opportunities that will change all our lives.”
The government’s LEP Review concluded in March 2022 with the publication of ‘Guidance on integrating Local Enterprise Partnerships into local democratic institutions’ which anticipated that “LEPs will eventually fully integrate into local democratic institutions in line with our mission to offer a devolution deal to everywhere that wants one by 2030”. The reality for most LEPs at this time is that the majority of will not be on that pathway for some years and need to be getting on with the day job for some time yet.
Contact: Mike Dennehy
Phone: 07710 094 999