Suffolk/Norfolk: LEPs must prove ‘value for money’

Chris Starkie of New Anglia LEP

Chris Starkie of New Anglia LEP - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

Local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) like New Anglia and Greater Cambridgeshire Greater Peterborough must demonstrate to communities they are providing “value for money”, says an influential group of MPs.

A business select committee, which has produced a report into the public-private groups set up by the govern-ment to boost regional growth, said the ability of communities to scrutinise performance was “patchy”.

Committee chairman Adrian Bailey MP said: “LEPs receive considerable amounts of public money from central government. Being free to react to local issues does not absolve them of accounting for how it is used. Value for money must be demonstrated.”

The Commons Business Innovation and Skills select committee praised LEPs for being “key drivers of strong regional economic growth” and called for funding to be laid out for five years to help provide long-term investment.

Chris Starkie, managing director of New Anglia, said the LEP supported the committee’s recommendations around future funding.

He added: “We recognise the importance of accountability, but believe that we are already held to account by central government through targets and measures set for individual programmes such as our Growing Places Fund, our Growing Business Fund and our Enterprise Zone.” He also said the organisation was accountable to its 16 local authorities which provided funding and scrutinised its work.

He added: “We believe the LEP is achieving good value for money – value for money is one of the key criteria for our projects. Our Operating Plan, which was published in February, sets out a clear set of targets for the LEP over the coming year.”

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The select committee report also praised the work of Suffolk and Norfolk’s New Anglia LEP, which it said had brought together a range of private and public sector bodies, which would not normally work together, to create its Green Economy Manifesto – which is a blueprint for how Norfolk and Suffolk could drive forward green economic growth.