This week the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles met with the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Business to discuss the importance of business leadership and vision for local enterprise partnerships, which are intended to drive local economic growth across England.
The Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles said:
“We want to urgently rebuild and rebalance local economies without strangling businesses with red tape so that new economic opportunities spread across the country.
“I was delighted to meet with and hear the views of the Federation for Small Business and British Chamber of Commerce - they have a central role to play, working hand in hand with local leaders, to develop and deliver new local enterprise partnerships that will make the economy responsive to the needs of local business and local people.”
Small businesses and local chambers of commerce as key business partners will have a key role helping to develop and deliver local enterprise partnerships with local councils.
David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce said:
“The future of our local economies - from Cornwall to Carlisle - hinges on the growth of the wealth-generating private sector. The Secretary of State and I are in complete agreement on this point.
“We also agree that Chambers of Commerce, the beating hearts of England’s local business communities, must play a crucial leadership role in delivering that growth. As local enterprise partnerships develop across the country, Chambers will work together with local councils to set a clear vision for growth, prosperity, and jobs - and will help deliver the innovative, private-sector leadership that local enterprise partnerships will need to succeed.”
Mike Cherry, Policy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“Small businesses must not be ignored and it is crucial that their voice is heard in the newly established local enterprise partnerships, so it is fantastic news that the Federation of Small Businesses is going to be the key business partner. While we welcome the creation of these new bodies, we all know that the 4.8 million small firms are the engine room of the economy and the key to creating jobs and so must play a vital role in these new groupings.
“It is crucial, during this time of economic uncertainty, that the influence of the small business community continues to be felt at local and regional level. We are working closely with the coalition government on putting local enterprise partnerships in place and we want to ensure that the new entities will deliver results so that small firms have the ability to grow and develop, and ultimately boost local economies.”
The government is committed to replacing the Regional Development Agencies with local enterprise partnerships of elected authorities and businesses who can provide the strategic leadership and economic vision for their local area. To be effective, it is crucial that business works in equal partnership with civic leaders to drive real change in public service delivery and create a better business environment.
Lord Heseltine to lead Regional Growth Fund Panel
The government also announced today that Lord Heseltine will chair the Independent Approval Panel for the £1 billion Regional Growth Fund. The new panel will consider proposals for funding and recommend to Ministers which projects should be taken forward.
Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles said:
“Lord Heseltine is the perfect choice for Chair: his regeneration pedigree will be vital when identifying the projects that deserve Regional Growth Fund support.
“Local enterprise partnerships will be central to that by returning democratic accountability they will show how local businesses, local councils and communities - freed from bureaucratic hurdles - can work together to reopen and rebalance Britain’s economy.”
The Regional Growth Fund has been set up to provide support for projects that offer significant potential for sustainable economic growth and can create new private sector employment. It will particularly help areas and communities currently highly-reliant on public sector employment make the transition to growth and prosperity. In a consultation published today, the government is seeking views on how the fund should be designed to best meet the needs of areas and communities across England. Launching the consultation, the Deputy Prime Minister said:
“The Regional Growth Fund is an innovative new mechanism to unleash the talent and drive that will help get the country back on its feet.”
Local enterprise partnerships will play an important role in bringing together bids for the Regional Growth Fund, working with key partners such as universities. Private sector companies and other public-private partnerships will also be invited to bid independently for the fund.
Lord Heseltine said:
“I am delighted to have been asked to help with this exciting project. It builds on the experiences I’ve had in helping people in deprived areas to help themselves and their communities achieve aspirations that, without schemes of this sort, might be impossible.
“This is about local people, local initiatives and local success in areas where the inevitable cuts will be most heavily felt.”
Business Secretary, Vince Cable added:
“I’m delighted that Lord Heseltine and Sir Ian Wrigglesworth have agreed to lead the Approval Panel for this important initiative.
“The Regional Growth Fund demonstrates that England is open for business. It will support enterprise and incentivise the growth of local economies; mobilizing private sector investment across the country and creating sustainable private sector jobs. And Michael and Ian’s experience and strategic oversight will help ensure it is a success.”