Pat Doody, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, gives a flavour of the Comprehensive Spending & LEP Review, the Levelling Up agenda, and what it means for Lincolnshire in his blog, as we prepare for our annual LEP Conference on 2nd November.
As LEPs gear up for the conclusions of the Levelling-Up White Paper and Comprehensive Spending Review, LEP business leaders across England have identified five core future values to take forward for local communities and businesses to genuinely feel the benefits of levelling up and local growth.
For 10 years, LEPs have collaborated across the country, using our unique convening power to deliver complex programmes which are transforming local communities and economies on the ground. Business led, our decisions and programmes are the result of negotiations with many partners, underpinned by published robust evidence, and executed on time, on budget and with the promised outcomes. Aligning the recommendations of the LEP review is an opportunity for us to state our future impact and value, in securing funding to match policy ambitions, and enabling us to play our full part as the catalyst to deliver the government's Plan for Growth and Net Zero.
LEPs nationally have built a unique partnership of over 2,000 business, 180 locally elected councillors, and 250 FE and HE leaders which is accelerating business-led local growth. We played a key role in supporting business throughout the pandemic, within weeks launching over 100 locally tailored support initiatives to support SMEs, which saw almost two million businesses turn to their LEP Growth Hubs, far more than the entire previous year. LEPs came through the stress test for engineered economic pandemic recovery with flying colours, showing our worth with an immediacy and intelligence in response by rapidly devising credible local growth strategies that united a diverse set of partners, collaborating across geographical boundaries to make this happen.
We tailor business support delivering a free programme of joined-up, expert business advice and support, building on our highly successful Business Lincolnshire Growth Hub network, and ensuring companies play their full part in the Plan for Growth. Through this model we can provide a consistent, quality, core offer available across the country whilst maintaining the ability to shape bespoke local programmes which meet the needs of our businesses. This has proved extremely valuable in dealing with economic shocks.
As business-led partnerships, we are deep in discussions with officials and stakeholders to help define exactly what the best form of business representation and support looks like in the future and where we can bring clear added value.
The future value of what we can bring is clear:
- We are catalysts for action on Net Zero - such as Greater Lincolnshire's journey to becoming the UK’s largest cluster for off shore wind or industrial decarbonisation and for innovation – where our cutting-edge UK Food Valley has an intense focus on robotics and automation.
- We stimulate local private investment to transform our economy, and we act as conveners for economic clusters which deliver more skilled jobs for the green economy, and more R&D - which already sees over 300 collaborations nationally with universities and FE colleges.
- We maintain a clear focus on business support - with around two million businesses supported across LEPs in the last 12 months alone. Meanwhile locally, our Businesses Lincolnshire Growth Hub has been especially active in both the rapidly changing Covid environment, and in post-Brexit navigation.
- We keep a priority focus on skills, where we are ensuring local skills reflect the needs of local economies to nurture skills, allow people to realise their ambitions, and provide the skills business need, including provision for some of the hardest hit groups through our ESF programmes to help them overcome multiple barriers and find jobs. LEPs have invested significantly in Skills Capital Funding projects, including locally our skills campus in North Lincolnshire, the significant investment in the University North Lincolnshire, Boston's Engineering Manufacturing and Technical Centre, and Stamford College with their specialist construction college
We have and can deliver these outcomes through our strategic role in providing place-based economic expertise, connections with central and local government, and by building on our economic plans underpinned by robust evidence. Through our strong sector focus we identify priority local industries to design and deliver interventions to make places more competitive, whilst exploiting our unique opportunities.
We continue to commit to improving the lives and opportunities for the communities and businesses across Greater Lincolnshire. LEPs oversee hundreds of projects which are delivering current programmes, from the Getting Building Fund, to Enterprise Zones, the Local Growth Funds, Growing Places Fund, freeports, and the concluding European funding streams. Retaining continuity of this ownership and accountability is critical to successful project delivery and to mitigating risk, and we have grounded experience across all of this.
Underpinning each of these roles is an unwavering focus on skills, ensuring that business plays a part in shaping FE and apprenticeship courses using our Skills Advisory and Digital Skills panels, and continuing our involvement with the Careers and Enterprise Company through our Enterprise Advisor Network.
LEPs have proven their worth and in the context of the Comprehensive Spending Review, are poised to move swiftly and effectively into the next stage of local economic growth.
Chair, Greater Lincolnshire LEP