Minister tells LEPs to 'step up the pace'
A Government minister has told the bosses of task forces charged with overseeing the economic development of the Westcountry he wants "a significant step up in pace".
Michael Fallon has also revealed that the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, which covers Torbay, along with Devon, Plymouth, and Somerset, and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership will get a dedicated senior contact in Whitehall.
And responding to criticism of delays in doling out kick-start cash, the Business Minister told MPs he had introduced a strict timetable in order to speed up the process, with the clear indication the cash offer would be withdrawn if the deadline is not met.
Mr Fallon was appearing before the Commons Business Select Committee, which was holding a hearing into progress on Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and the Regional Growth Fund. The outcome of the third round of funding is expected this Friday.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
It comes after an influential Commons spending watchdog highlighted "scandalous" delays in awarding grants.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said it was "highly disappointed" so few final approvals had been given and projects started under the RGF, which is aimed at boosting the economy and creating jobs.
It pointed out that after two years only a third of the offers had been finalised, and only £60 million of the earmarked £1.4 billion had actually been spent on frontline projects – just 4%. As a result only a fraction of the expected jobs had been created.
Responding to the concerns raised by the report, Mr Fallon told MPs: "They raised a legitimate question about the handling of bids which is one reason I want to have an accelerated process for round three, by setting for the first time a time limit between the announcement of which bid is selected and reaching agreement on the final offer – and that time limit is three months. From then on there is a second time limit of a further three months between final offer and the completion of due diligence, which the company concerned has to commission and we have to agree to and evaluate."