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April 25, 2014

LEPs must focus on helping growing firms

LEPs must focus on helping growing firmsLocal Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are too focused on a "narrow idea of economic success", according to a study by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES).

The report concludes that LEPs must broaden their focus if they are to deliver a lasting economic impact. It found that most LEPs were failing to build what it called "resilient local economic strategies". The report has called on LEPs to focus on a mix of social and economic priorities and to ensure all sectors are represented.

Neil McInroy, chief executive of CLES, said: "This work highlights how some LEPs are relying on a narrow idea of what economic success looks like. A resilient local economy does not just create business growth, but also strengthens local economic infrastructure, builds social institutions and addresses poverty and social issues."

Meanwhile, a new report entitled The Growth Challenge by Delta Economics for the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants (ACCA) says that initiatives aimed at helping UK SMEs are failing at the critical growth stage, with incentives mainly aimed at the start-up and exit phases of business development.

SMEs told researchers that Local Enterprise Partnerships had not been as successful as their predecessors, the Regional Development Agencies, in ensuring that money was targeted effectively at entrepreneurs.

Manos Schizas, ACCA's senior economic analyst, said: "SMEs have pointed to a gap in support when it comes to that critical growth stage of the business development journey, when the enterprise is still in its infancy but past the 'birth' phase. Local authorities, in particular, did not have a definite focus on business growth, and the lack of transparency in allocation of funding meant that there was some confusion as to whether or not resources were reaching entrepreneurs."

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