Further to this post, Steve Walker at ART has drawn my attention to this informative account in the Local Government Chronicle online of how the battle for LEPs — the Local Enterprise Partnerships which will take over many of the functions of the closing RDAs — is shaping up.
The LGC claims to have uncovered tensions in Whitehall, with distinct differences of opinion between Cable’s Dept for Business, Innovation & Skills and Pickles’ Dept for Communities & Local Government regarding not just the shape and nature of LEPs but also the freedom individual partnerships will have to determine how they ‘do’ LEPs.
LEPs are currently expected to share something like £1bn between them — 65% less than the combined RDAs’ budgets — and consequently many consider the LEPs debate somewhat academic in that they will not be rich sources of finance. The issue, then, if we are realistic, is not just about what LEPs will do and the powers they will have, but how little it will require in order for them to be able to operate effectively.
But the real interest, I suspect, certainly for onlookers to this debate, is that LEPs have become a canary in the mine issue — capable of indicating whether or not the government really does believe its own rhetoric of openness, self-determination and non-centralisation… We shall see. At the moment the canary is still singing…but we are listening closely…
There are some interesting comments below — Kevin Maton’s (SEWM) add useful information, do take a look.