Funding for local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) is set to end in April 2024, the government confirmed today.
The money earmarked for LEPs since their inception in 2010 will now be allocated to mayoral combined and some local authorities.
Moving the funding over to the authorities will boost the scope for “greater join-up, efficiencies, and clarity for the private sector” involved in the LEP programme, according to a government letter sent to all authority leaders and LEP chairs today.
LEPs were originally set up as a way to determine the local skills priorities, and are made up of local authorities and private sector businesses. Nearly £12 billion was pumped into LEPs by 2019/20, and there are currently 36 LEPs.
But government has now moved forward with a decision to cut that funding, after it first touted the idea in this year’s spring budget.
A consultation launched in March showed that there was “overlap between some of the functions being discharged by LEPs, local authorities and combined authorities”, the letter said, which was signed by Dehenna Davison, the minister for levelling up, and Kevin Hollinrake, the minister for enterprise, small markets and business.
The consultation also found “there is already a high level of integration of LEP functions in mayoral Combined Authority areas”. Combined authorities will take on the funding to deliver the LEP’s function, while county councils will get that funding where a combined authority has not yet been set up.
Funding earmarked for the work LEPs currently do will go to the local and mayoral authorities until 2024/2025, but government has not committed to funding after that.
“The government remains committed to our goal that by 2030, every area in England that wants a devolution deal will have one,” the letter added.