Austin Macauley 16 April 2014

Report: LEPs too focused on ‘narrow idea of economic success’

Local enterprise partnerships must broaden their focus if they are to deliver a lasting economic impact, according to a new report.

A study by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies judged areas using a ‘whole place’ approach that examines the strength of networks between different sectors and whether both social and economic priorities are being met.

Overall it found most LEPs were failing to build what it termed ‘resilient local economic strategies’.

It found just 56% of LEPs had representatives on their boards from the voluntary and community sector. The Marches LEP – which covers Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin – came out top with 14% of its board coming from the VCS. Cumbria LEP ranked highest in terms of small business representation with more than two-thirds of its board from SMEs.

The report said focusing on ‘big business’ alone would not deliver the economic and social resilience needed for successful places. It called on LEPs to focus on a mix of social and economic priorities and to ensure all sectors are represented.

Neil McInroy, chief executive of CLES, said: ‘This work highlights how some LEPs are relying on a narrow idea of what economic success looks like.

‘For CLES, a resilient local economy does not just create business growth, but also strengthens local economic infrastructure, builds social institutions and addresses poverty and social issues. This work sets out a baseline and some recommendations so LEPS can start to build resilience.’

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