South East conference masterclass: The growth deal
Within this masterclass there was an explanation about the June 2013 Spending Review which saw the government ask Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to develop multi-year local economic plans, which would then be used for negotiations on 'growth deals' with the government. These deals would see LEPs awarded funding from the single growth fund, created in the 2013 Spending Review.
The growth deals are intended to:
- Devolve more resources and responsibilities to LEPs
- Enable LEPs to have a leading role in shaping and allocating funding
- Provide a flexible / locally tailored approach to investment
- Facilitate better use of assets
- Develop a more coordinated approach to investment
As part of the 15/16 spending round, the Chancellor committed to negotiating a growth deal with every LEP and announced the creation of a £2 billion annual single growth fund to be spent under the direction of LEPs. It also confirmed that the majority of spending decisions for England's £5.3 billion European Union structure and investment funds for 2014-2020 would be developed to LEPs.
For the South East (excluding London) in the period 2016-21, this will result in some £1.5 billion of investment; a significant opportunity for housing providers.
Joe Sarling from Nathaniel Litchfield & Partners stated that:
- Infrastructure and transport investment has predominated so far and is key to all new development
- The South East LEP investment funding is third highest per capita nationally
- Economic growth – through the creation of homes and jobs are ‘big tick’ delivery outcomes for LEPs
- Each LEP needs to assess and clearly make out a case showing outcomes and impact to justify the ongoing investment to government
Chris Cobbold from Wessex Economics explained that:
- Innovation has been an important aspect of what the LEP has been seeking – working across boundaries
- Kent has had the advantage of having a county wide housing strategy to demonstrate a broader / more joined up approach
- Coastal towns working together on common issues e.g. Hastings and Thanet are a good example of partnership working
- The South East generally has a fragmented government – boroughs and districts – which do not span economic functional areas which in turn makes delivery more difficult
The government’s 100 restate regeneration programme presents further opportunity to work with the LEPs. Going forward it will be critical to communicate with key people in the LEP, getting involved in developing the strategy and the delivery. However, working in partnership will be crucial as the LEPs don’t want and cannot resource lots of individual conversations.