The Role of Local Enterprise Partnerships

How much help do you get from your Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)? Are you confident that you can get the advice and the services you need from it? Do you and other small businesses in your area have a voice in local business strategy of your LEP?

What The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Thinks

Your bookkeepers are aware of one of one of its recent reports, which says up front that LEPs must engage more with small businesses. Consulting more effectively with them would help them encourage and make the most of local growth opportunities. The recommendations of the report include LEPs having a small business sub-group and a stakeholder relationship manager to make sure that the needs and ideas of local small organisations are brought to the attention of the LEP. A board member with the relevant background and experience should also be appointed to hold specific responsibility for small business issues.

The report follows a survey of LEPs, Local Authorities and small business representatives. Of the 39 LEPs currently operating, 36 responded, as well as 131 local authorities and business people. The FSB conclusions are that LEPs are hampered by a lack of government clarity about their role and mission, as well as by inadequate funding and staffing. Its report therefore also makes recommendations to government.

A fascinating graph covers types of LEP activities to support small business competitiveness that are currently available, and the considerable amount that that falls short of what a) local authorities and b) the FSB think they should be offering.

Why the Small Business Sector is Important

It points out that 'small and medium sized businesses have been responsible for four in five (84%) jobs created in the private sector between 2010 and 2013, and represent almost half (48%) of private sector turnover. Yet the report finds that large businesses are perceived to have most influence within LEPs.

According to FSB National Chairman, John Allan, "LEPs are crucial to delivering local economic growth across England. While some have done a good job of reaching out to the small business community, others need to up their game. Small firms will ultimately be the ones creating most of the jobs and prosperity in the private sector, so it is absolutely essential that they are at the heart of all LEPs thinking and plans.'

So how much do you and your outsourced bookkeepers know about your local LEP? Is it time to find out more and become proactive in lobbying for the changes that are needed?

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