A Worcestershire MP is to draw up plans to transform the way the Government supports businesses and economic development in the English regions.
Peter Luff (Con Mid Worcestershire) is to lead an inquiry into the work of regional development agencies including Advantage West Midlands, which oversees spending of £290 million in the region annually.
The agencies were originally set up by John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, to boost economic development across England and close the massive productivity gap between London and the rest of the country. But the quangos, which spent £13 billion of taxpayers’ money over the past decade, have been widely criticised, while official figures show the economic gap has continued to rise.
The shadow Business and Enterprise Secretary, Alan Duncan, revealed earlier this week that Conservatives would radically transform regional development agencies if they won the next General Election, warning: “I think it’s clear that under a Conservative government, the regional development agency will be a different beast.”
Mr Luff has now announced that the House of Commons Business and Enterprise Committee, which he chairs, is to hold an inquiry into the need for regional development agencies and their effectiveness.
Critics claim regional development agencies have failed to prevent regional economies falling behind, because productivity outside London is still growing more slowly than in the capital.