Small business support must not be left to fall through the cracks following decision to remove funding for Local Enterprise Partnerships.
Following the announcement from the Government that funding for Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England will be withdrawn, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chair Martin McTague.
Martin said, “Even though we knew this was on the horizon, the decision to remove all funding from LEPs is still disappointing. With economic growth stuck in the doldrums and small firms beset on all sides by cost pressures and falling demand, going ahead with this decision seems especially badly timed.
“LEPs are a key ingredient in many local business ecosystems, providing resources, know-how, and practical solutions to small firms. The value they provide in return for their funding should not be underestimated, and the loss of the networks they facilitate will only become clear when it’s too late to replace them.
“The network of business support across England was already looking threadbare and inconsistent, and this news only emphasises the need for a ‘Business England’ body, to ensure that small firms and start-ups get the help they need regardless of their postcode.
“A key characteristic of LEPs is that they are business-led. Local Authorities should make sure that any business forum or council they set up using replacement funds from Government retain that element, so that they are as responsive as possible to what local firms want and need.
“The Government should now publish an updated regional economic strategy detailing how small business voices will be included in future plans, and also how it plans to avoid small and rural town funding being dominated by local combined authorities, to the detriment of small firms based in rural settings. Access to support should be straightforward for all small businesses, so they can be helped to reach their full potential – something the economy desperately needs.”