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What is a Local Enterprise Partnership?

The Hub News Team | 4.8.15

It appears that four years after they were first introduced, there are still a fair few people who don't know exactly what a LEP is, and what exactly it does.

This perhaps isn't surprising, with the role and remits of these local enterprise partnerships evolving rapidly with much of their work being delivered by their public sector partners. And hopefully most people will have heard of their local council!

Wikipedia describes local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) as voluntary partnerships between “local authorities and businesses set up in 2011 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to help determine local economic priorities and lead economic growth and job creation within the local area. They carry out some of the functions previously carried out by the regional development agencies which were abolished in March 2012. To date there are 39 local enterprise partnerships in operation.”

That's pretty much it in a nutshell. But in essence, what the creation of LEPs signified was the move to devolution of power to the regions but with the private sector driving decision-making, working closely with its public sector partners.

The Marches LEP, which covers Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, is private-sector led. Businesses guide LEP decision-making, all three chairs of the Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford Business Boards are on the LEP Board. It's chairman, Graham Wynn OBE, is a businessman. And business people from the housing, finance, manufacturing and third sector also have a seat at the table. Also on the board are the three elected Leaders of the region's councils and education and skills champions.

Working with the councils of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, and informed by the needs and ambitions of private sector business, the LEP has developed a Strategic Economic Plan which spells out what needs to be done to grow the region economy. This plan is the basis of the LEP's Growth Deal with Government, with more than £80 million of funding already confirmed for projects to deliver projects from housing and business park developments to jobs and better broadband connectivity.

As well as being strategic bodies, LEPs are also delivering projects – including Enterprise Zones and new Growth Hubs. What are they? We'll tackle those in forthcoming blogs!

For more information on what the LEP is, visit www.marcheslep.org.uk

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