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Billion pound investment could pay dividends for Harlow

Business / Fri 4th Apr 2014 at 09:11am

THE South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SE LEP) has today called on HM Government to make a £1.2 billion investment in growth across the South East. With support from Ministers and Whitehall, local partners’ plans will unlock a total investment package of £10 billion to accelerate growth, jobs and house building until 2021.

SE LEP has developed plans that will generate 200,000 private sector jobs, 100,000 new homes and transform transport and business infrastructure over the next six years. These plans are supported by a coordinated programme of investment supported by major new public/private funds, across East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. The plans are being presented to Ministers as the foundation of an historic ‘Growth Deal’ bringing national and local investment together to provide a boost to the South East economy.

Peter Jones, South East LEP Chairman, said:

“Our Growth Deal proposals highlight the unique potential of the South East economy, Our proposal is about the renewal of the physical and intellectual capital of our area. Alongside the upgrade of our roads, railways, harbours and homes, we put forward plans to raise educational and skills attainment to develop a workforce poised to grasp the new business and high-level job opportunities presented by our growth sectors and industries.

We have a level of ambition that will not be matched, and which is founded on the distinctive strengths of our area and the returns we can generate for the UK economy by exploiting out competitive advantage. The South East is the most exciting place to do business in the UK and the South East LEP is the most powerful in terms of both scale and reach. Our plans demonstrate this.”

The SE LEP Growth Deal includes:

· Establishing a £5.2bn property investment fund, drawing public, private and EU money together to provide the infrastructure necessary to boost business and jobs;

· Delivering the biggest local transport programme in the country to realise the potential of our towns and cities and to unlock the economic benefits of connectivity;

· Boosting productivity by bringing together local and national business support services, improving businesses access to finance and encouraging closer links between business, universities and colleges;

· Investing £128m in skills projects, strengthening employers’ influence over wider skills provision; and,

· Increasing the pace of housing construction by piloting a new model of housing delivery that will give quicker results and better value for money.

The SE LEP Growth Deal sets out partners’ bid to the Local Growth Fund – a fund that brings together funding from across Whitehall departments – and seeks a series of commitments from Government to boost local growth by improving national transport links and devolving greater influence of funding.

The bid will be a competitive process, but business leaders are confident that HM Government will recognise the strong case for investing in the South East.

The Minister for Cities, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, said:

“The Government welcomes the Strategic Economic Plan that South East LEP has published today and looks forward to continued engagement with local civic and business leaders over the next few months on the negotiation of their Growth Deal.

The Growth Deal provides a fantastic opportunity for South East LEP to seek freedoms, flexibilities and influence over resources from government, and a share of the Local Growth Fund to put towards their the growth priorities set out in this Strategic Economic Plan. This provides the opportunity to unleash the ambition and creativity of SE LEP’s local leaders, by devolving resource and responsibility in return for compelling local economic leadership in pursuit of growth”.

Speaking about engagement with HM Government, Peter Jones said:

“We offer some of the most compelling infrastructure and business investment opportunities in the Country. We also have many sites across the SE LEP area with potential for new employment and housing development. But taking these opportunities means improving the roads and railways that provide the essential links to ports, airports and to the rest of the world. As we negotiate our growth deal, we will be looking to Ministers to invest in these assets.

Our Growth Deal proposals are just the beginning. We recognize the process heralds an exciting and new relationship with Government where business and local councils working with SE LEP have the opportunity to help target and influence national programmes and investments in return for new jobs, homes and investment.”

At the heart of the proposal includes plans to use Local Growth Fund to launch a South East Fund (SEFUND), a largely recyclable property investment fund supported by professional fund management expertise. Local authority partners have already made an “in principle” commitment of up to £250m over 6 years to match SEFUND investment to support local growth.

Our local delivery partnerships, driven by business and local councils will ensure maximum impact and value for money. We will always deliver as close as possible to our communities, coming together when scale, additionality and greater impact can be achieved.

A total of £2 billion per year is to be made available to the 39 LEPs across England between 2015-16 and 2020-21. Having submitted growth deal proposals, SELEP will enter a process of negotiation with Ministers and Whitehall officials over summer 2014. It is expected that funding awards will be made in Autumn 2014 with new funds available to invest locally from April 2015.

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