Posted on:
12th July, 2023

Independent report concludes LEP Growth Hubs increase business turnover and jobs

An independent evaluation of LEP Growth Hubs between 2015 and 2020, commissioned by the government, concludes that LEP Growth Hubs increase turnover, business R&D, access to finance, and job creation.

Independent report concludes LEP Growth Hubs increase business turnover and jobs

LEP Growth Hubs, are currently funded to March 2024 with a final decision on future funding yet to be decided. The report, conducted by Technopolis and published on the government website, seeks to consider how LEP Growth Hubs operate at national, regional, and local levels, and to inform future decisions about policy and funding. The report shows that:

  • LEP Growth Hubs are successful, and proven to work, especially for SMEs and have “a strong reputation for reliability and independence among stakeholders, partners, and businesses”.
  • They reached 8% of all businesses in England - higher than the 2.5% ambition set in BEIS reporting.
  • Growth Hubs simplify the business support landscape, undertaking significant stakeholder engagement and management, enabling local businesses to access the support and help available in their local areas.
  • National and regional stakeholders saw Growth Hubs’ as having a unique understanding of local needs and strengths. This local strength and insight reaches local businesses where national programmes may not.
  • Engagement with LEP Growth Hubs boosted employment levels for supported businesses - beneficiaries demonstrated an average 14% increase in employment one year after first engagement and an average 22% increase in employment after five years.
  • In terms of turnover, there is clear sustained growth. Relative to the baseline, beneficiaries report an average increase of £782k one year after the first intervention, compared to £294k for non-beneficiaries. The equivalent increase five years post GH engagement is higher, at £953k.
  • Businesses see the ‘human centred’ approach being of “immense value”, in terms of both dealing with partners and business beneficiaries, business felt this was “essential and advantageous, particularly in times of heightened uncertainty”.
  • In conclusion LEP Growth Hub outcomes increased business R&D, access to finance, turnover, and job creation for local businesses

LEP Network Chair Mark Bretton, said:

“This report confirms what local businesses experience on the ground – LEP Growth Hubs are successful and proven to work. But, as the report makes clear, two things make that happen – a strong reputation for reliability and independence and a ‘human centred’ approach. These are essential and advantageous, particularly in times of heightened uncertainty. That uncertainty is more acute than ever, hence the role of LEP Growth Hubs has never been more valuable in enabling and supporting local businesses to start up, scale up, invest and export.

“But as the report states, increased consistency of the Growth Hub offer across the network, and improved resourcing, can enable LEP Growth Hubs to retain their high value staff and work even more effectively - this resonates with the Chancellor’s intention to maintain “a more consistent landscape” during LEP integration into local authorities. We simply cannot risk a patchwork of local business support in areas where LEPs are not able to integrate or where local leaders cannot reach agreement. I trust that this independent assessment of their performance will positively inform government as they consider their final decision on LEPs and LEP Growth Hub funding”.

The report makes five recommendations to government:

1. Improve communication and marketing of the network.

The offer of the Growth Hub is evidently complex, both within individual Growth Hubs and at the network level. If Growth Hubs are to be retained, it is even more important to ensure clear messaging about their place in the landscape.

2. Increase resourcing for the Growth Hubs, directly or indirectly.

The work of the Growth Hubs is resource intensive, and while the Growth Hubs themselves are confident of their resourcing and capacity, actors from other areas of the landscape felt that the Growth Hubs could do more with increased funding.

3. Support further development of the offer, learning from the experience of the pandemic.

The lessons of helping businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications of the EU Exit process offers a view on the value of the Growth Hubs and their support offer. It is clear that, despite constraints and challenges, Growth Hubs adapted to delivering important and impactful support

4. Deliver consistency of the offer across the network.

The localised nature of the Growth Hubs is essential to the relevance of and trust in the support offer. This was tested by the increasing challenges presented during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Growth Hubs were found to be increasingly important to many firms’ prospects of survival.

5. Improve data collection and reduce bureaucracy.

The individualised nature of the Growth Hubs presents difficulties and is a limiting factor to analysis, and we recommend that this is addressed. This is underway via a dedicated working group, to which emerging findings from this evaluation have contributed.

The report is available on the government website