Government cash backing for task force to boost jobs and growth in BANES
Ministers have bowed to pressure and provided funding to support a task force charged with overseeing the economic development of Bath and North East Somerset.
The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which covers Bath and North East Somerset Council, will receive £125,000 in the current financial year.
And it will be in line to net up to £250,000 in Whitehall cash annually for the next two years on the condition it is match-funded locally.
The financial help comes amid calls by a group of MPs for LEPs, which replaced regional development agencies, to be better funded.
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The All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Growth urged the Government to provide enough money to cover “a basic level of staffing” and to make sure they can act independently.
Since being set up LEPs have only received a small amount of start-up funding from central government.
The LEP Network has argued partnerships should receive around £250,000 in “core funding” every year.
The All Party Group report argued ‘modest’ funding could “help ensure that individual partners, particularly local authorities but also potential business organisations, did not dominate the LEP's agenda”.
It warns that forcing LEPs to compete for money from different Government initiatives is “counterproductive” and “too resource-intensive”.
The Government acknowledged its £25 million funding package comes in response to “recent strong representations”.
It will be provided on a 50/50 basis by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
Business Minister Michael Fallon said: “It is crucial we arm Local Enterprise Partnerships with the tools and resources they need to play a prominent role in delivering growth and jobs for their communities.
“This funding will help LEPs plan for the long term and ensure they can remain locally-led instead of dependent on central government support.
Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk said: “If matched by local support, this could mean that up to £45 million will be available to help LEPs turn their plans into jobs and growth.”