The Black Country has been urged to explain how it will work with neighbouring areas including Birmingham and Solihull as it draws up a fresh bid to create a local enterprise partnership.
Officials at the Department for Business and Enterprise want Black Country councils and business leaders to explain how they plan to forge links with their neighbours.
It follows the decision by Black Country civic leaders to go it alone and reject invitations to join forces with Birmingham, Solihull and east Staffordshire authorities including Lichfield and Tamworth.
Earlier this year, they turned down an offer to create one large local enterprise partnership, announcing instead that they would form a Black Country body.
Business Secretary Vince Cable has approved the “Greater Birmingham” proposal – but turned down the Black Country plan. He told the House of Commons that proposals for a local enterprise partnership involving Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall had not been rejected outright.
Dr Cable would be happy to consider them again, but he needed more evidence that businesses were on board.
However, the Birmingham Post has learned that this is only one of the concerns the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has about the plan.
Officials have also asked for more details about how the Black Country LEP will work with neighbouring bodies.
However, they have also expressed confidence in the Black Country by telling councils that they recognise they have a strong record of partnership.
Local enterprise partnerships which have not been approved were given feedback on how to develop their proposals further and told to resubmit their plans once they believe they have met the expectations that set out. No deadlines have been set.
Wolverhampton MP Pat McFadden (Lab Wolverhampton South East) said he was concerned the partnership would be unable to deliver effective support for industry even if it was approved.
He said: “The people pulling together this bid are simply doing as the Government asked so I wish them well, but it is unclear whether the partnership will actually have any resources.”
Dr Cable told the House of Commons last week that the Government did not propose to give local enterprise partnerships guaranteed funding.
The partnerships will be invited to bid for a share of a £1.4 billion regional growth fund, but they will compete with private sector bidders who will also be eligible for the money.
Bids will be considered first by a panel chaired by Tory grandee Michael Heseltine and then by a second panel chaired by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister.