FSB criticises Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) for not being involved more with SMEs
In a report it has published, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) it was also argued that £17 billion of public money spent by LEPs ‘needed to be accounted for’.
It calls on LEPs to ‘place small businesses at the heart of their plans for local economic growth’.
This is the first report of its kind and it stresses small businesses cannot be ignored as the economic recovery continues. The FSB believes that LEPs are the right vehicle to deliver local economic growth across England but stresses that the voice of small businesses needs to be better represented within LEPs.
SMEs 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. However, the report finds that large businesses are perceived to have most influence within LEPs. Two in five (39%) local authorities and two thirds (67%) of FSB representatives surveyed felt that large businesses exert the greatest influence over LEPs.
The research finds that many LEPs would be better placed to maximise local growth opportunities if they consulted more effectively with the small business community, particularly around procurement support. Three quarters (77%) of small businesses want LEPs to offer procurement advice as part of their business support package, but only a quarter (25%) of LEPs are planning to offer this kind of service. While it is important for LEPs to reform their strategic role, the FSB wants to see them become more effective at providing the advice and services small businesses need.
“LEPs are crucial to delivering local economic growth across England,” admitted John Allan, National Chairman, FSB. “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.”
Caption John Allan, National Chairman, FSB – “LEPs are crucial to delivering local economic growth across England….”