Central Government has confirmed its commitment to negotiating a Growth Deal with every Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in the country.

Strategic Economic Plans

All LEPs have Growth Plans which form the basis of the first draft of their Strategic Economic Plans which need to be submitted to Central Government by 19 December 2013.

Through Growth Deals, LEPs can seek a share of the new Local Growth Fund to target their identified growth priorities.

In return, Central Government will expect evidence of real commitment from LEPs to the growth agenda, including the development of Strategic Economic Plans.

The key principle is that Growth Deals will form a partnership between Central Government and LEPs, where the Government will respond to the offers made by LEPs in pursuit of growth. Central Government and LEPs will negotiate Growth Deals on the basis of its Strategic Economic Plan.

Central Government will assess the LEP's Strategic Economic Plans following the submission date of 19 December.

There is no set format for these Strategic Economic Plans although the 'Growth Deals – Initial Guidance for Local Enterprise Partnerships' published on 1 July 2013 provides some details and includes a contents check list to ensure that each Strategic Economic Plan addresses the right issues.

Your Strategic Economic Plan will need to:

  • Demonstrate a wide commitment to growth
  • Align or pool local authority capital and revenue spend on growth
  • Demonstrate effective collaboration on economic development activities
  • Maximise the synergies with wider local growth programmes delivered in each LEP area

Central Government does not prescribe the way in which Strategic Economic Plans will work but does expect that they will deliver collective decisions, from all local authority leaders, including district councils, within the LEP. Central Government recommends that authorities may want to consider the following models of collective decision making:

  • A Joint Leaders Committee
  • Economic Prosperity Board
  • Combined Authority

There may of course be other models you could consider which provide the right balance of collectivity and accountability.

We have also seen situations where the LEP has considered incorporating as a limited company to become a separate legal entity with each partner having an interest in the company. The LEP as an incorporated body can enter into more formal contractual arrangements such as with its accountable body.

Where the LEP remains unincorporated, it will have the option to consider less formal arrangements such as entering into a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the local authority which acts as its accountable body.  Our experience in acting for LEPs suggests very strongly that an effective SLA is an important tool in ensuring the proper levels of accountability, understanding and trust between the LEP (its members) and the accountable body.

How we can help

If you are a Local Enterprise Partnership or a local authority acting as an accountable body, we would like to offer you a 30 – 45 minute conference call (at no cost) to consider whether the governance arrangements you have in place deliver the collective decision making Central Government expects, prior to 19 December. To take up this offer, please contact one of the LEP team below.

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