Federation of Small Businesses leads call for LEPs to provide more support to small firms

New report argues small businesses need to be better represented by LEPs in order to maximise local economic growth

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) have published a report today  urging Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to engage more with small firms to encourage local economic growth.

Said to be the “first” report of its kind using results from LEPs, local authorities and small business owners, ‘The future of LEPs: the small business perspective’ report found that from 2010-2013 small and medium companies were responsible for  84% of jobs in the private sector.

Despite this finding, the research suggested that 39% of local authorities and 67% of FSB representatives believe that it is large businesses, not small companies, which have the greatest influence over LEPs.

In addition, 77% of small business representatives said they wanted LEPs to offer procurement advice but reported that only 25% of LEPs were planning to offer this kind of service.

On the back of the research, the FSB is calling for a national framework to assess the performance of LEPs and wants LEPs to provide better assistance and advice to small firms, and to “improve transparency” – according to the report only 31% of LEPs publish annual accounts.

FSB national chairman, John Allan, said:  “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.”

“LEPs will be handling £17bn of public money between now and 2021. It is important and only right to understand how it is being spent. Because the sums of money involved will increase substantially, it is vital that LEPs are more accountable and transparent so local authorities, businesses and the public can be confident they will deliver for the local economy and are using taxpayer funds effectively.”

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