Appendix A

About Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are non-statutory private sector-led partnerships between businesses and local authorities. There are 38 LEPs in England, each operating across more than one local authority area[1], with some working alongside combined authorities[2]. Working with local partners, LEPs are tasked with producing a strategy for local economic development by identifying barriers and solutions to improving growth in their area.

Main roles and responsibilities of LEPs

LEPs have responsibility for bidding for central government funding, influencing local funding streams, and making sure that these deliver against agreed priorities.

Delivering Local Growth Deals

LEPs have been allocated £9.1bn through Growth Deals[3] to drive economic growth in their local areas, with another £3bn allocated via other means[4]. The types of projects funded vary, but include employment and skills, business support, housing, and transport. LEPs bid for the money by developing multi-year strategic economic plans. These plans determine the level of funding that they will be allocated and what projects it must be spent on.

Developing Local Industrial Strategies

LEPs are tasked by government to develop Local Industrial Strategies[5] setting out a long-term economic vision for their area based on local consultation. These strategies seek to promote productivity and inclusive growth[6] by identifying priorities to improving skills, increasing innovation, enhancing infrastructure and business growth[7].

Local Industrial Strategies will be used to inform LEP’s approach to any further local growth funding allocated through them, as well as helping local areas choose an approach to maximising the long-term impact of the forthcoming UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF)[8]

Distributing EU funding

Working with the Managing Authorities, LEPs are responsible for strategies on how EU funding[9] is spent, finding projects and match funding, and ensuring that the projects deliver against objectives. They do not deliver the projects themselves.

All LEPs currently have a European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) Committee, which oversee the development of EU funding in the area and feed into the national ESIF Growth Programme Board. ESIF Committees are made up from key stakeholders in the LEP area, including from the voluntary sector, rural, environment and equality sectors.

The European Social Fund (ESF) is the main funding stream supporting the creation of jobs, helping people into better jobs and ensuring fairer job opportunities for EU citizens. The UK was allocated €3.5bn in ESF funding for the period from 2014 to 2020 with three thematic objectives:

  • Promoting sustainable and quality employment and supporting labour mobility
  • Combating social exclusion, poverty and discrimination
  • Investing in education, training and vocational training for skills and lifelong learning

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is worth around €3.6bn and is aimed at enterprises (including social enterprises) and infrastructure investment. The majority of funding is focused on growing and making small and medium enterprises more competitive, innovation and research and low carbon activities, with some more limited funding for ICT and the protection of the environment.

From April 2021, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) will replace the money local areas currently receive from the European Union. It is expected that LEPs will play a role in its administration.

Footnotes

  1. The LEP Network provides a function for finding your nearest LEP: https://www.lepnetwork.net/aboutleps/location-map

  2. Between 2015–16 and 2020–21. For a list of growth deals see: https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN07120

  3. The first Local Industrial Strategies will be agreed with Government by March 2019, with an aim to agreeing all strategies early 2020. A list of Local Industrial Strategy summaries can be view on the LEP Network website https://www.lepnetwork.net/lep-activities/local-industrial-strategies/

  4. The RSA Inclusive Growth Commission defines inclusive growth as:“enabling as many people as possible to contribute to and benefit from growth” https://www.thersa.org/action-and-research/rsa-projects/public-services-and-communities-folder/inclusive-growth-commission

  5. HM Government, Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain fit for the future, November 2017, pg. 220

  6. The UK received £5.3bn of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) between 2014 and 2020