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LEP in the dark

LEP in the dark

🕔28.Jun 2013

With the Government’ s failure to deliver the fabled Single Pot of joined up local spending for the greater Birmingham economy, LEP chair Andy Street is no doubt crying into his Waitrose Fair Trade skinny Latte. Mr Street has been taken for a ride by George Osborne et al, his good nature preyed upon by the big beasts of Westminster. But the paltry national £2billion announced by Treasury tune-master George ‘Jeffrey’ Osborne for Single Pot working is not at all surprising.

Those expecting a massive £50 billion shift of resources to localities were simply not paying attention. A trench war over business support and regeneration is raging in the Coalition Government.

Business minister Vince Cable was not likely to roll over and hand control of a good chunk of his department’s role to LEPs. And his reason was not just about keepingTreasury tanks off his lawn. Mr Cable always had a point when he said – and he said it often – that Local Economic Partnerships were simply not accountable enough to be given large amounts of Government dosh. The deflating of the Single Pot advocates is equally unsurprising when we recall that even Lord Heseltine, that arch advocate of local based regeneration quangos, said the same.

None of this invalidates the arguments of Sir Albert Bore about the need to more local and joined up control of budgets. Unfortunately, as a canny politician like Albert knows, Governments of all colours have proved unwilling to trust local councils with the necessary cash. And after George Osborne’s recent and continuing cuts bonanza, this Government above all is not about to give any additional powers (or cash) to local government.

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