Thomas Bridge 31 July 2014

Core Cities and LEPs unite to boost business

England’s largest cities have partnered with eight Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to boost national support for businesses.

Formed by the Core Cities cabinet and chairs of LEPs operating across the same urban regions, The ‘Cities for Business’ partnership will advise Government on creating growth outside of the South East while working to create jobs and investment.

Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle and Sheffield will unite with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, West of England LEP, Liverpool City Region LEP, Leeds City Region LEP, Greater Manchester LEP, D2N2 LEP, North East LEP and Sheffield City Region LEP.

The city and business leaders have written a joint statement to chancellor George Osborne, shadow chancellor Ed Balls and chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, calling for new freedoms and flexibility to support local growth.

Measure to boost growth proposed by the partnership include establishment of innovation growth hubs in each Core City and more local control over skills and employment services.

Cllr Jon Collins, leader Nottingham City Council and vice chair, growth, of Core Cities cabinet said: ‘As leaders and mayors of big cities we want to do all we can to support our businesses to create growth and jobs, but it often feels like we are doing so with one hand tied behind our backs.

‘With greater freedom to generate the right skills in the labour market, more investment and tailored support packages for business, we could do much more.

‘Our urban areas deliver 27% of the English economy, but are still underperforming by international standards. That’s why we have come together with our eight LEPs – which cover wider areas around the Core Cities – to create a distinctive urban voice.’

Mike Blackburn, chair of the Greater Manchester LEP said: ‘Businesses face tough challenges ahead; finding employees with the right skill set, getting good advice to help them grow and develop trade links, accessing investment and ensuring that local infrastructure and the asset base businesses need to thrive within a city are sufficiently high.

‘Too often these success factors are controlled at the national not the local level, and that leaves local businesses with less influence, and less chance of a solution that is tailored to meet their needs.’

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