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PM praises vital role of LEPs at Downing Street meeting
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PM praises vital role of LEPs at Downing Street meeting

The Prime Minister has met the leaders of England’s Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to celebrate their achievements to date and to map out key areas for cooperation under the UK’s Modern Industrial Strategy.

The first meeting of the Prime Minister’s Council of LEP Chairs, made up of business leaders representing the 38 Partnerships took place on June 19. Talks focused on where LEPs carry maximum impact: delivering the objectives of the Modern Industrial Strategy in local areas, and investing in the skills people and businesses need.

Welcoming the Council of LEP Chairs, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Local Enterprise Partnerships play a vital role in supporting businesses and innovation across England. From the New Anglia aviation academy – the first of its kind in the UK – to Enterprise M3’s 5G innovation centre, LEPs are developing skills, delivering infrastructure, and securing investment.

“That’s why our Modern Industrial Strategy is clear that they must continue to play a crucial role in our plans to deliver further growth in local economies.

“Today’s first meeting of the Council marks a milestone in this partnership. By working even more closely together, we will continue to maximise our efforts in creating jobs, growth and investment right across the country, delivering long-term, meaningful results for local communities.”

Eight of the LEP chairs gave short presentations to the meeting on aspects of their work and its relationship to the Industrial Strategy.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP chairman David Frost CBE was asked to lead the discussion on apprenticeships and highlighted the work the LEP is doing on skills, including establishing the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Hub, which is providing new opportunities in science and engineering skills training at FE colleges across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, and working with Staffordshire University on its Apprenticeships and Digital Skills Hub.

A wide-ranging discussion also examined opportunities for LEPs to engage with small and medium businesses to highlight the advantages of apprenticeships.

David Frost commented: “This was a very positive and constructive meeting. LEPs have an important role to play in bringing together business and public sector partners to shape economic growth so that it benefits all areas of the country, and we look forward to working with Government to secure continued investment to help our area thrive and create more and better jobs for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire residents.”

Co-chair of the meeting and LEP Chair for Greater Manchester Mike Blackburn OBE said: “Today was a golden opportunity for business leaders to sit down with the Prime Minister and identify the key action areas LEPs can help government with, and highlight current achievements.

“The government’s commitment to ‘place’ based development and growth plays to the core strengths of all LEPs, and our local strategies will exploit those strengths of locality and geography.

“This is part of an ongoing dialogue between LEPs and government as we help build an ambitious programme for long-term economic growth. Our strong partnerships of private and public sector leaders and track record of delivery, mean we have an exciting opportunity to help the government build an economy that works for everyone, no matter where they live.”

LEPs reinforced their commitment to help deliver a national Industrial Strategy, using their strengths and expertise to lead local strategies for economic growth and partner more effectively with local government.

From fostering partnerships between businesses and institutions to enable vital research, to spearheading cutting-edge initiatives at the local level in clean growth and supporting major areas of expansion such as the medical technologies sector, LEPs are playing a crucial role in the delivery of the modern Industrial Strategy, ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of innovation.

The Council of Local Enterprise Partnership Chairs was announced in the 2017 Industrial Strategy White Paper as a new forum for LEP business leaders to help shape national policy decisions and ensure closer cooperation with the Government on Industrial Strategy objectives.

David Frost is pictured, third from left, in the LEP delegation at Downing Street.