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Government aims to give LEPs ‘greater spending power’ post-Brexit

Local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) could have ‘greater spending power and authority’ after Brexit, the housing and communities secretary has revealed.

Appearing in front of the housing, communities and local government select committee on Monday (25 March), James Brokenshire said the government is ‘looking carefully’ at what the role of LEPs after Brexit, particularly in relation to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will replace EU social and regeneration funds.

‘We are working and looking at the way that LEPs may have greater spending power and authority, and what their relationship is with individual communities, because, equally, LEPs can be quite distant, and therefore there is how we understand what the needs of particular communities or towns may be within their areas,” Mr Brokenshire told MPs.

‘That is why I see it as a slightly more dynamic conversation in that way.’

Mr Brokenshire also updated the committee on the work to develop the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

‘We obviously have been continuing to work up the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to be this new simplified fund operating across the UK, replacing the existing EU funds,’ he told the committee.

‘There has been discussion that has continued on the design of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund over the past year. We have had 25 engagement events across the UK, with over 500 people, representing a breadth of different sectors. Whilst, yes, I would want to see the consultation starting at the earliest opportunity, the work has continued to structure, to listen. We remain committed to consulting widely on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.’

He also insisted his Whitehall department has taken a ‘comprehensive approach to listening and providing support’ for councils preparing for Brexit.

‘I am as confident as I can be that councils will rise to the challenge, with all the work that has gone in,’ said Mr Brokenshire.

‘I am under no doubt that the scale we are dealing with is hugely challenging and the councils will need to draw upon their skills and resilience to meet the challenges that Brexit will pose.

‘We have developed strong and extensive relationships to respond to emerging concerns. Indeed, we have worked through a number of those over a number of months. There is the work we have undertaken with other departments too, to support councils, to listen to councils, and to see that we are as prepared as we can be as we look towards that EU departure.’

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart

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