Government Urged to Drop 'Wasteful' Competition Plan

By Johnstone, Richard | Public Finance, May 2013 | Go to article overview

Government Urged to Drop 'Wasteful' Competition Plan


Johnstone, Richard, Public Finance


The government has been urged to back down on plans to make Local Enterprise Partnerships compete fora share of the proposed single local growth fund after a warning that such an exercise could be a waste of money.

In the Budget on March 20, Chancellor George Osborne said he had accepted Lord Heseltine's recommendation to establish a single funding potto boost economic development. This will devolve some Whitehall cash for skills, housingand transport to LEPs from 2015, with total amounts to be determined in the Spending Review on June 26. Heseltine had proposed that as much as £49bn could be included.

Osborne said all 39 LEPs would negotiate a local growth deal with the Treasury for funding to be distributed on a competitive basis, reflectingthe quality of local plans.

LEPs, which were created when the coalition government came to power in 20 10, are intended to help councils and local businesses work together to stimulate growth across an area.

Tre Treasury said that 'competitive tension' in the allocation of funds would 'strengthen incentives... to unleash local areas to generate growth and drive collaboration'.

However, the Core Cities Group has told Rjblic Finance that the plan to individually assess plans from each partnership could be wasteful when public money is tight, and should be dropped.

The group, which represents the eight core cities in England outside London, called for the pot to be allocated on the basis of each area's economic activity or population.

Director Chris Murray said member authorities would be ma king a submission in mid-May to set out how they would like the scheme to work.

As the government is cutting spending, it should just 'get on with' dividing up the funds without the need for a bidding process, he said. …

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