becpn26b 0809

13 March 2009  (PN 26)

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES MUST KEEP BUSINESS FOCUS MPs WARN

(Page 2 of 2)

The Bill sets out to reform the way regional policies are agreed and delivered, with agencies and local authorities working in partnership to set the regional agenda. 

The four main proposals relating to economic development in the Bill are:

• merging the existing regional economic and spatial strategies into a single integrated regional strategy, with local authorities and regional development agencies being jointly responsible for its drafting and agreement;

• giving local authorities the duty to undertake an economic assessment of their areas;

• devolving funding to local authorities to enable them, rather than RDAs, to deliver economic development policies; and

• encouraging collaboration between local authorities in delivering these policies.

The Committee supports the overall principles of the Bill, but it also highlights a serious lack of clarity in a number of the key proposals and urges the Government to provide more information as soon as possible.  In particular, the Committee calls for more details about the crucial relationship between regional development agencies and local authorities to ensure that community and business interests are both properly reflected in the new integrated regional strategies.

The Report also highlights the lack of clarity about the status of the economic assessment in relation to the integrated regional strategies; the membership and flexibility of the proposed Economic Prosperity Boards; and the degree to which delivery of policies will really be devolved to local authorities. 

The Committee expresses surprise that the Government has introduced the Bill in the Lords before publishing an independent review of the RDAs by PwC.  The Committee is also disappointed that the frequent delays to the publication of this review means its conclusions were not available to the Committee as it conducted the inquiry.

Background

The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill was introduced into the House of Lords on 4 December 2008.  Parts four to seven relate to economic development and follow the Government’s review of sub-national economic development and regeneration.

At time of the Report’s publication, the Bill is still being considered by the Lords at Committee stage.

Further information about the Bill can be found on the Parliament’s web site:
http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2008-09/localdemocracyeconomicdevelopmentandconstruction.html

Further information about the Committee and its Report can be found on the Committee’s web site:  http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/berr.cfm

 Further Information:

Committee membership is as follows:
Chairman: Peter Luff MP (Con) (Mid Worcestershire)
Mr Adrian Bailey (Lab) (West Bromwich West)
Roger Berry (Lab) (Kingswood)
Mr Brian Binley (Con) (Northampton South)
Mr Michael Clapham (Lab) (Barnsley West and Pen.)
Mr Lindsay Hoyle (Lab) (Chorley)
Miss Julie Kirkbride (Con) (Bromsgrove)
Anne Moffat (Lab) (East Lothian)
Mark Oaten (Lib Dem) (Winchester)
Mr Lembit Öpik (Lib Dem) (Montgomeryshire)
Mr Anthony Wright (Lab) (Great Yarmouth)

Media Enquiries: Laura Humble, Tel 0207 219 2003/ 07917 488 489, email: [email protected]
Specific Committee Information: Tel 020 7219 5777, email: [email protected]