East Anglia: Business Minister Michael Fallon urges LEPs to ‘step up the pace’ of growth

BUSINESS minister Michael Fallon has challenged Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to “step up the pace” of economic growth.

LEPs are private sector-led groups of business and local authority leaders set up to drive growth following the abolition regional development agencies.

Addressing a committee of MPs in Westminster, Mr Fallon said that ministers had provided cash to LEPs and were “impatient for growth” in return.

The minister, who will attend the New Anglia LEP’s conference in Ipswich on Monday, said: “I think my aim has been to sharpen the focus and to accelerate the pace.

“I met the LEP chairmen and indicated to them I want to see a significant step up in pace. I’ve responded to their request for core funding.”

Last month Mr Fallon said he would provide �125,000 for each LEP this year and a further �250,000 in “match funding” in each of the following two years.

Mr Fallon added: “I want to be very clear now that the Government is impatient for growth; we want to see the economy growing more rapidly, particularly locally, particularly outside London and the South East. And that’s why I want them to step up the pace and get on with this now.”

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Andy Wood, chairman of the New Anglia LEP, which covers Suffolk and Norfolk, said: “It is perfectly understandable that Michael Fallon should want to see more from LEP’s.

“The relatively small amount of core funding is very welcome and will go some way to alleviating the pressure some LEPs have felt.”

However, he added: “The Network of LEPs up and down the country relies largely upon business people who care about their localities and who are prepared to donate their time to make things happen. LEPs are part of the solution to growth and jobs, but we also need initiatives to stimulate greater demand in the economy to ensure the promise of a private sector renaissance is fulfilled.”