Business West responds to Lord Heseltine’s report

This week Lord Heseltine released his report ‘no stone unturned’ which urged government to take bolder action to stimulate the economy.

A raft of recommendations were suggested by Lord Heseltine, such as devolving power from whitehall to the regions in order to help local leaders and businesses.

Lord Heseltine said in the report that he believed Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) could be key to stimulating regional growth, but said that, at the moment, LEPs did not currently have “the authority or resource to transform their locality in the way our economy needs”.

He also said that “London had acquired too much power” and  “I want to shove power out of Whitehall, into the provinces.”

The report was welcomed by Business West.

Phil Smith, who is its Managing Director comments: “Now much of the initial hype about Lord Heseltine’s report on growth has died down, there is time for a more considered look at some of the 89 recommendations.

“To date, much of the report has been welcomed and supported by commentators, with praise for its thoroughness and understanding of the state of the UK economy and what can be done to improve performance.

“The focus on many of the often quoted barriers to business growth, such as, access to finance, education and skills, planning and infrastructure is just what is needed to ensure we have a real debate about the issues that matter to business.

“With the right structural changes and a shift of funding to local levels this is a very real opportunity to enhance the local economy in the West of England.

He continues:“It is particularly interesting to see that Lord Heseltine has recognised both the role of chambers of commerce and Local Enterprise Partnerships, affording both a significant future role in delivering growth.

“Enhancing the role of LEPs to develop the economic plans for their area and bid for new economic development funds, in conjunction with the chamber of commerce, puts LEPs very much at the heart of local economic growth.

“The role chambers of commerce currently play in supporting business is also emphasised along with a clear identification of the strengths of chambers – as local, resilient, internationally focused and proactive bodies supporting and representing their local business community.”

“The report proposes the creation of a ‘single pot’ approach to most economic development funding (potentially a £49bn pot), with LEPs strengthened as the only bidders for programmes of activity lasting up to five years.

“The suggestion in terms of delivery is that the LEPs must nominate their local accredited chamber of commerce to act as partner and to deliver business support in their area.”

Local Enterprise Partnerships were established in 2010 after government invited local business and civic leaders to come forwards with proposals for establishign LEPs.