The Prime Minister has hinted at more funding for the single funding pot distributed among regions – but said there was evidence local enterprise partnerships were “getting stronger”.
The Government committed £2 billion to the first Single Local Growth Fund pot – set up as a result of Lord Heseltine’s devolution plans, in which he called for a pot of more than £50 billion.
Speaking to the Post on a visit to Birmingham, David Cameron said he was open to increasing the single pot.
He said local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) – which the government founded after scrapping regional development agencies (RDAs) for being too costly were showing their merit by bringing in investment.
The Post recently reported the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP had submitted a bid for £561 million of public money over the next five years towards 94 projects
Mr Cameron said: “These LEPs are run by businesspeople who have a day job running businesses.
“The fact that they are private sector-led is making a very big difference. They are lean but they are attracting a lot of investment.
“The Heseltine pot is a great idea because what we are doing is bringing together government money and saying to local enterprise partnerships bid on the basis of the ideas you have got.
“It is a lot of money that has gone in the pot but I am sure in future years we may be able to see that go up. We may be able to find extra resources for local enterprise partnerships to bid for.”
With much talk in recent weeks about “Greater Birmingham” and the prospect of the city uniting with the Black Country under that banner, Mr Cameron said the Black Country had proven it can thrive through LEPs.
The Black Country LEP recently bid for £56 million worth of funding for schemes in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley and Stourbridge.
Mr Cameron said: “I think that some areas like the Black Country lost out under the RDAs. They were big bureaucracies that spent a lot of money on themselves rather than delivering and I think sometimes areas around the big conurbation could lose out.
“The Black Country has its own LEP with its own bid and its own real prospectus.
“This is a competitive system and it has got every chance of doing well.”
Mr Cameron spoke as he unveiled proposals for 8,000 jobs to be created as a result of the runway extension at Birmingham Airport.
The airport says 4,000 jobs are expected to be directly created, and a further 4,000 will come from the supply chain.
Mr Cameron said: “What you are going to see here is the local enterprise partnerships, which have been a success story, getting stronger, doing more and delivering more for their local areas.
“I think where they are really beginning to deliver is by helping to fund transport projects, the enterprise zones are a big success story – the Black Country enterprise zone, with Jaguar Land Rover, is an absolute trailblazer for the whole country.”