Council chiefs and local business leaders in charge of England’s 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) have been offered a share of £1.8bn to help promote economic growth and attract investment from overseas.
The money, announced by communities secretary Greg Clark, represents the latest round of Growth Deals, intended to help local leaders boost skills, support business, and build more homes in their areas. The money forms part of the Government’s £12 billion Local Growth Fund.
Clark announced the latest round of funding ahead of a summit with regional leaders from China, hosted in Sheffield and chaired by the communities secretary. The meeting, said to be historic, sought to sell the Northern Powerhouse as a trade and investment opportunity for the delegates.
“We’re completely changing the way business is done in this country, ending the top-down, ‘Whitehall knows best’ mentality of the past and instead putting power back where it belongs – in the hands of local communities,” said Clark. “With this offer of a Growth Deal to communities across the country, we’re backing this devolution revolution with billions of pounds, releasing vital investment in projects across the country to boost local skills, deliver new homes and create jobs.”
The funding fits in with the Government’s devolution agenda. Last week’s Budget included five new and extended devolution deals, which transfer billions of pounds and extensive powers from Whitehall to cities and counties, and paved the way for work to start on major infrastructure and housing projects, by allocating funding support from the Local Growth Fund.
• New devolution deals with councils in East Anglia, Greater Lincolnshire and the West of England
• Extended devolution deals with Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region
• £475 million for large local transport projects – of which £151 million will fund two new crossings at Lowestoft and Ipswich
According to the Department of Communities & Local Government, £7.7bn of the £12bn Local Growth Fund has been allocated to more than 900 projects across England to build infrastructure, improve skills and create thousands of jobs.
• A new £2.6 million motor vehicle engineering centre at Leicester College, built using £1.23 million from the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal allocation
• Flood defences at Albert Dock in Hull, which were completed in November 2015. This £6. 6million project received £3 million from the Humber LEP’s Growth Deal allocation, leading to 1.6 km of new flood walls being built, which has protected hundreds of homes from further flooding
• Halesowen College’s advanced science, engineering and technology centre: a third of the £3.17 million build cost was funded from the Black Country LEP’s Growth Deal. The project will meet identified skills gaps and has the backing of major local businesses
• Shipley College Grade II listed Mill Building, in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire, which has undergone a £388,000 refurbishment. The project has received a £119,000 grant from the LEP and West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Local Growth Fund