1 Purpose of the report
This report provides an overview of the national LEP Review and considerations for YNY Local Authorities
2.1 Alongside the March 21 Budget government announced “As we look towards the UK Shared Prosperity Fund next year, we are conscious of the need for an evolution of the way we support local economic growth so it can best support levelling up for the long term. The UK government will work with local partners throughout 2021 to develop an approach that delivers the infrastructure and regeneration priorities local leaders want to see in their area.
We will also be working with local businesses on the future role of Local Enterprise Partnerships. We want to ensure local businesses have clear representation and support in their area, in order to drive the recovery. We will work with Local Enterprise Partnerships over the coming months, with a view to announcing more detailed plans ahead of summer recess. This will also include consideration of Local Enterprise Partnership geographies.”
2.2 Subsequent to this announcement the National LEP Network have been working with government departments to agree the terms of reference for the review and to start the process. Annex A provides a copy of the agreed Terms of Reference.
2.3 Discussions with government departments commenced w/c 19 April and are based around the following key themes
- objectives and functions
- geographies and accountability
- representation and interaction with local government
- implementation and funding
2.4 Directors of Development will note that the Levelling Up Fund, a post covid capital infrastructure fund, is being routed through Local Authority partners. Government have been clear they see future Local Growth Funding being routed this way, however this does not preclude the LEP having a role in shaping and influencing these funds.
2.5 Further, Department of Education launched a call for Skills Improvement Plan trailblazers. Local Skills Improvement Plans will help:
- bring employers, colleges and other providers, and local stakeholders together
- set out the key changes needed to make technical skills training more responsive to employers’ skills need
- tailor provision to the challenges and opportunities most relevant to the local area
2.6 Dof E will pilot Local Skills Improvement Plans in 6 to 8 trailblazer local areas. To be considered for selection as a Local Skills Improvement Plan trailblazer, applications must be led by an established employer representative body, adding ‘we do not consider Mayoral Combined Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Skills Advisory Panels to be employer representative bodies so they are not eligible’.
2.7 A decision is expected, hopefully before summer recess, although possibly aligned with the Autumn Budget Statement.
3 Issues and Risks
3.1 There are a number of issues and risks to be considered both about the national direction of travel, but also more local York and North Yorkshire implications.
- Whilst there may be ‘individual logic’ in placing local growth infrastructure funding through Local Authorities, Business Support through LEPs and Skills Plans through Chambers of Commerce, you risk losing the value of integrated place based investment plans.
- LEPs and Local Authorities nationally, and very effectively in Y&NY, have worked to develop coherent and integrated plans across a broad range of agenda’s. Splitting them up in three separate directions risks fragmentation and a lack of joined up thinking and making it more complex for local stakeholders to know who to engage about what.
- Three different models operating individually may be more resource intensive to manage and engage with.
- One aspect of the LEP review is around LA representation, if infrastructure funding is going through LA’s and the LEP role is business support and innovation. The YNY LEP strongly believes that strong public/private partnership must be at the heart of any operating model.
- Linked to the above consideration is being given to whether LEPs are accountable, through a national Assurance Framework to a Government Department (e.g BEIS) rather than through local frameworks. Again, the view of the YNY LEP is that LEPs role is about local implementation of national policy and therefore local accountability is crucial.
- Equally consideration is being given as to whether integration within a Mayoral Combined Authority should be accepted or LEPs sit independent. The YNY LEP view is that where it is integrated e.g Tees Valley, Manchester, LCR, it is a more cohesive business model.
- Linked to the above is consideration of LEP geographies. The YNY LEP view is that where you have Combined Authorities, the LEP geography should be coterminous to avoid confusion and maximise alignment.
- Within York and North Yorkshire, aspirations are for a devolution deal to create a Mayoral Combined Authority in May 2023. This would be delivered parallel to Local Government Reform. Currently the integrated partnership between the LEP and LA’s has enabled the LEP Secretariat to act as the co-ordinating resource providing capacity to support development of devolution plans. If we are successful in securing a deal to be implemented May 2023, there will be a need for considerable resource to be allocated to develop pipelines and secure approvals to start delivery in May 2023. Local Authority resource will be stretched delivering Local Government Reform and ‘splitting’ the LEP off during this period would seem counter-productive.
4.1 Chief Executives are asked to note the LEP Review process and consider the issues and risks.
5 Additional Information
5.1 Contact – James Farrar, email@example.com