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What now for contractor accountants in depressed areas?

What now for contractor accountants in depressed areas?

Vince Cable confirmed this week that 24 local enterprise partnerships have been given the go-ahead, a move welcomed by the Federation of Small Businesses.

Whilst the FPB is pleased by the announcement, it has called on the LEPs to make sure SMEs are put at the heart of local communities. The policy chairman at the FSB, Mike Cherry, said the Federation has always encouraged local businesses and local authorities to work in partnership and therefore the setting up of these LEPs is a logical step.

Cherry believes that small businesses must have a genuine involvement in decision making and business activity if the partnerships are going to be successful. LEPs will not work if civic leaders simply pay lip service to the SME sector, he added.

The Regional Growth Fund, which is designed to support private sector job creation in areas that currently depend on the public sector, was also declared open for business this week. The fund has a pot of £1.4bn and Vince Cable said he was delighted to see so many imaginative proposals to help drive economic growth in local communities.

David Frost from the BCC thinks these moves are a good start but explained that LEPs must concentrate on getting the basics right in order to give businesses greater confidence to invest and create new jobs.

However, not everybody is confident that the new initiatives will be successful. Mark Prisk, the business minister, believes that many LEPs lack focus and will fail to help economic growth. In a leaked letter to Vince Cable, Prisk said that the business community felt many LEPs do not have the ambition necessary to make an economic impact.

Shadow business secretary, John Denham, is also critical of the government’s plans saying that almost 800,000 businesses have been excluded. 60 local partnerships applied to become LEPs and because only 24 have been approved in the first wave, 21 million people will not be covered. Denham said the plan for growth is a shambles and leaves massive areas with no organisation to support economic development. He thinks that this proves the coalition has given up on growth.

More than 75% of inhabitants in the North-west and Yorkshire and Humberside will be covered by an LEP whilst only 26% of people in already depressed areas like the North-east will be in an LEP area.

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Image: Pucker up! by ucamari

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