LEP response to £18m Local Growth Fund allocation

LEP response to £18m Local Growth Fund allocation

The Government has today announced that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are to receive £18.03 million of investment from its Local Growth Fund, which was set up to devolve funding to the English regions for projects that create jobs and economic growth.

We expect this to attract a further £52 million from other sources, creating 760 jobs and delivering almost 7,000 sq meters of workspace. Together with our previous two Growth Deals, this adds up to a total investment of £342 million over five years, which could see 5,760 jobs created and 7,000 new homes built.

The LEP was encouraged to make an ambitious bid and we were proud of what we submitted, especially given the high level of private sector investment in our proposals. But having asked for £127 million, it is difficult not to be disappointed at our £18.03 million allocation.

The reality is that the £1.8 billion Local Growth Fund was three-times over-subscribed nationally, and what we have been awarded is, per capita, on a par with many other LEPs.

But we don’t think that’s good enough. Our argument remains that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been on an economic journey for more than 20 years, and that journey is far from complete.

Huge regional imbalances persist in the UK economy, so we will continue to argue our case for more investment as we strive to close the gap with other regions in terms of wages, skills and infrastructure.

The Government’s new Industrial Strategy consultation is hugely encouraging in that regard. With its focus on sector deals, local strengths and skills development, it commits Government to tackling regional disparities and aligns closely with our own Strategic Economic Plan, so there is much to work towards.

The LEP has been asked to lead our area’s response to the Industrial Strategy and you can find out more about how we are doing that here.

In the meantime we are having to reprioritise our Growth Deal spending plans to take account of our allocation. That is ongoing but we are likely to focus investment in space, aerospace and marine energy activity through the LEP’s Enterprise Zones, new workspace for growing businesses, and the fast-growing creative sector. All projects remain subject to due diligence and full business case.

There were other investment streams announced in last year’s Autumn Statement – around infrastructure and innovation for example – which we are actively exploring, with more opportunities expected from the March 2017 Budget. And we continue to advance our own project to establish an alternative finance investment fund valued in the tens of millions of pounds to support business growth.

Mark Duddridge, Chair, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership

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Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, PO Box 723, Pydar House, Pydar Street, Truro, TR1 1XU

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