LEPs get cash – but must find match-funding
Flagship government bodies appointed to create jobs in the regions have finally been given cash to launch projects.
Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), coalitions of local businesses and politicians, were conceived in the early days of the Government almost two years ago.
The Westcountry has two LEPs, one for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and the other for Devon and Somerset.
Ministers have decided to give £24 million to 39 groups across the country, and are hoping to get £20 million of match-funding in return.
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An interim £5 million package will be available immediately for LEPs to draw upon for the rest of this financial year. This will be followed by up to £250,000 per LEP per year for the next two years.
But the bodies will be required to get cash of equal value from businesses or the local public sector.
Business Minister Michael Fallon said: "This funding will help LEPs plan for the long term and ensure they can remain locally-led, instead of dependent on central government support.
"We need to ensure LEPs remain voluntary business and civic partnerships so they are in the best possible position to deliver sustainable growth and job creation in their areas."
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Growth has backed calls for LEPs to be better funded. Their report urged the Government to provide enough money to cover "a basic level of staffing" and ensure they can act independently.
A Commons select committee is holding an inquiry into LEPs and the sister Regional Growth Fund, which has £2.3 billion for regional economic development projects.