Wednesday, October 15, 2014

News: Sheffield city region asks for more from government


Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has written to Government to officially ask for an additional £38m to further boost economic growth and create jobs in the area.

The Government's new model of local economic growth centres around Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), a collaboration between businesses and the local authorities that are placed at the heart of growth in the regions. In response to the Heseltine Review, the Government has charged LEPs with putting together local growth plans that will be the basis on which the Government negotiates deals with each LEP for new levers, resources, funding and flexibility over them.

The Sheffield City Region LEP submitted its final Strategic Economic Plan in April which set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the Sheffield City Region by 2023. In July the partnership secured £325m from the first wave of "Growth Deal" funding – an amount which will create over 28,000 jobs and training for 40,000 people.

Much of the funding is being used on infrastructure projects that will unlock employment sites. A £100m Sheffield City Region Skills Bank is being created, which will provide local businesses with more of the skills they need. £49.5m was earmarked to extend the LEP's successful Regional Growth Fund programme - "Unlocking Business Investment" that provides grants to support companies using their own funding to make direct business investments that ultimately lead to creating sustainable, private sector jobs. A Growth Hub is also set to be created, providing a clear model for coordinating and simplifying business support so that it joins up national, local, public and private business provisions. It will be backed by £32.6m of European funding.

The LEP believes that an additional £38m would enable them to progress a range of initiatives more quickly and effectively, as well as adding some additional projects. The LEP said that the additional funding would enable them to:

- Extend and accelerate the hugely successful RGF Programme Fund to support more local businesses with robust plans for growth in 2015
- Start building work on a Rail Engineering Academy in Doncaster
- Support over 2,000 businesses in the Sheffield City Region to start exporting to overseas markets
- Deliver 14 sustainable transport schemes which include regenerating local areas, creating new cycle and walking links, and improving bus routes
- Accelerate work to create an online support service for local business to enable them to get the advice and funding they need to grow
- Build five new business units on the Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone which will help to meet the growing demands from investors for premises to move into quickly and easily

James Newman, Chairman of Sheffield City Region LEP, said: "Earlier this year, our LEP achieved the fifth biggest deal with Government of all areas in England. We achieved this because our leaders worked closely together to put forward a very compelling offer.

"However, as I said at the time, this was only the first small step on a journey to take control of our City Region's economic destiny.

"Once again, we have put forward an incredibly strong offer to Government which will enable our City Region to take another step towards creating the 70,000 jobs and 6,000 new businesses that we set out in our vision.

"I hope Government will take notice and devolve the funding and powers we need to make these important projects a reality."

The LEP is currently looking to bring in a new private sector Board Member to help bolster and support with this work. Applications from CEOs, directors or successful entrepreneurs with experience in the digital sector or in infrastructure, and/or with strong experience in driving business growth, are being particularly welcomed.

Sheffield City Region LEP website

Images: Sheffield City Region LEP


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