The Coalition's strategy is very different from that of the outgoing Labour government's which was based on funnelling funds through the Regional Development Agencies and Business Link networks. The new strategy focuses on creating conditions for growth and promises very little money apart from infrastructure improvements and the Regional Growth Fund.
As most of us are used to a more corporatist model, the government's thinking is hard to follow. Those who want to understand the thinking behind it should read the Department for Business Innovation and Skills economic paper "Understanding Local Growth" also published this month. Without an economics background, this paper is hard going, but the important bit is the table on page 10. That shows that productivity per person has actually fallen during the years in which the RDAs existed in every region except London and the South-East and that growth has been appreciably slower outside those regions. That paper taken as a whole has convinced me of the need to try something else.
For most readers of this blog the most important things to mention are local enterprise partnerships ("LEPs") and the Regional Growth Fund ("RGF"): -
- LEPs I discussed local enterprise partnerships in my article of 21 Oct "Local Enterprise Partnerships begin to take Shape". In its white paper the government announced that it had accepted 24 of the 62 proposals to establish local enterprise partnerships. These include the proposals from "city regions" like Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield as well as those from predominately rural areas like Cornwall, Cumbria and the Marches. It will be from those local enterprise partnerships and any business support services that they may sponsor that the private inventors, who now look to Business Link and the RDAs, will obtain advice and help on commercializing their inventions in future.
- RGF: The money that used to be channelled through the RDAs will now come through the RGF which is now accepting bids (see "Information for Applicants" and the application form guidance). It should be noted that there will be a lot less money about than before and that it will be targeted.
I shall keep readers of this blog informed of developments.