Posted on:
26th February, 2024

Heseltine and Clark assess government's decision on LEPs

Two former Conservative Cabinet ministers have criticised plans to cease funding Local Enterprise Partnerships as LEPs work to transfer their functions to combined and local authorities from April.

Writing in the MJ, former local government secretary Greg Clark MP said:

"Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) did outstanding work in bringing local businesses and other economic leaders like universities together with local councils to improve the economic prospects of their areas. But budgets have been cut, the LEPs first sidelined and then condemned, without a better alternative."

Commenting on the work done by LEPs in intelligence led Local Industrial Strategies he says: 

"The abolition of the Industrial Strategy – a strategy for growth – saw with it the demise of the nascent Local Industrial Strategies on which some brilliant work was being done."

The ex local government secretary concludes - "I favour the national/local ‘deal’ approach over a ‘devolve and forget’ model."

In an interview with Lord Heseltine, interviewer Michael Burton notes that:

"He is particularly critical of plans to cut funding for the 36 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). ‘I think they have made a contribution but I don’t think they should have effectively been abandoned which is now what is happening. LEPs should not have been terminated – though I’m more relaxed about this where you have mayoral authorities.’

'....he adds, "if you look at the map the Government produced at the time of the LEP areas, surprise, surprise it’s virtually the same map as Redcliffe-Maud produced (the reorganisation of England's local government, with districts and counties being replaced with 60 or so unitaries). In the workings of the government machine, the civil service knows perfectly well where the economies of this country are."

Greg Clark MP wrote exclusively for the MJ and his full article is available here.

The full interview with Lord Heseltine is in the MJ and is available here.