Alex Cunningham MP argues LEPs need more support and warns of a jobless recovery in the North East

The Government today refused to say what will happen to the assets of One North East during a Parliamentary Debate on Regional Development in the North East.

Labour believes that Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are not getting the support they need from Government to have a real impact in their communities. Local MP Alex Cunningham challenged the Government to make clear what will happen to the land and property assets currently held by the Regional Development Agency One North East. He stressed no one wanted to see the assets sold off or lost to Whitehall mandarins:

“Local Enterprise Partnerships should have first say over the RDA assets, which would enable real local influence. LEPs currently have one hand tied behind their backs, with no dedicated funding stream to aid them with their start-up costs and initial research. That would give them a real boost and real clout.”

Labour also has concerns about the size of the Regional Growth Fund which stands at just £1.4 billion over three years compared to the £1.4 billion available to the Regional Development Agencies in just one year under Labour. Alex said:

“On Teesside our local LEP, Tees Valley Unlimited, has bid for £80 million worth of funding from the Regional Growth Fund. But I am told that a total of £2.78 billion worth of bids have been made. Clearly there is not enough money to meet demand and many bidders will be disappointed when the results are announced.”

“Unemployment in the North East stands at 10.2% – the highest in the country. The Government should be doing all it can to stimulate growth and create jobs in our region but I am afraid that to date they are clearly not doing enough. A jobless recovery would be a disaster for our region.”