MPs call for faster sub-regional resource-pooling

A group of MPs has called on local authorities to 'go further and faster' in pooling their economic-development resources, including planning, across Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas.

The recommendation is one of a series of measures in the All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Growth, LEPs and Enterprise Zones’ new Rising to the Challenge report.

It said relevant transport and planning-policy functions should be included in the resource-pooling with the aim of more rapidly gaining buy-in from all partners for investment decisions.

The report said that a "crucial advantage" of pooling resources was that it provided a platform for LEPs to agree a common economic evidence base and a model for providing "a clear analysis of return on investment".

"Agreement to carry out analysis of proposals on a common basis and to use this as the principal basis for decision-making will, if successful, allow LEPs to demonstrate how investment in projects within one local authority area can benefit other areas within the LEP, helping to resolve internal tensions," it said.

The report added that "in some instances" LEPs could be a useful vehicle for joint infrastructure delivery plans, particularly where different local authorities are able to harmonise the development of their Community Infrastructure Levy development tariff charging schedules.

It also included a call for greater clarity from the main political parties over the long-term future of LEPs to end "damaging" uncertainty and allow the bodies to continue without "unnecessary interference".

Group co-chair Caroline Dinenage said that one year on from Lord Heseltine’s No Stone Unturned review of growth, crucial questions still remained over how the future of LEPs would play out.

"It is clear that stability, and the backing of government to be ambitious, will be crucial to LEPs’ success going forward," she said.

"We hope that the recommendations outlined in this report can support policymakers, LEPs, business and local authorities in building their capacity to deliver an increasingly ambitious local growth agenda."

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