Cumbrian MP Tim Farron has today welcomed calls from the former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Heseltine in his new report on the economy, to decentralise spending power away from Whitehall and down to Local Enterprise Partnerships up and down the country.
In his report entitled: "No Stone Unturned" Lord Heseltine, a long time supporter of devolution, calls for control over skills budgets, infrastructure funds and job-creation schemes to be handed down to bodies like the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership. This could provide Cumbria's LEP with a budget of hundreds of millions of pounds a year to support and encourage local growth.
Under these radical plans, Lord Heseltine's central proposals is to call for near £48bn of currently Government money set aside for growth schemes in different Whitehall departments to be pulled together into a single fund for local areas. Lord Heseltne has proposed that the 39 LEPs should them bid for this pool of case, which would then be permanently from budget departments.
Lord Heseltine also calls for LEPs, like the one in Cumbria, to be strengthened as, "they currently do not have the authority or resource to transform their locality."
Commenting this morning Tim said: "The report produced by Lord Heseltine advocates what many of us locally have been calling on for years. There is no one in Whitehall who will be able to understand how money to help the local economy should be spent in Cumbria, better than Cumbrians
"Many people have claimed that this is a critical report of the economic plan the Government has put together so far. However I see this as an opportunity to extend the work already being done to hand more power back to local people, local authorities and local bodies. Ensuring the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership has more power to decide how money should be spent in our local area would be a much needed step forward for our county."
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