January 11, 2013 - Rachel Miller
A three-month project to boost the economy has been launched in Greater Birmingham based on a plan of action devised by Lord Heseltine.
Lord Heseltine's report No Stone Unturned was published in October 2012 and contained 89 recommendations. The report proposed that power be devolved from central government to the English regions with an increased role for Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
The Greater Birmingham Project will conduct a three-month review with Lord Heseltine ahead of a potential pilot.
Together, the GBSLEP (Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership) and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group will look to identify areas where local ventures are most likely to create jobs and regenerate communities were they to be given the necessary power and access to money.
After the review is completed it is hoped a pilot scheme will be run with a view to rolling it out across the country to other LEPs.
The Government is proposing that LEPs should be given greater powers to develop their own plans and, from 2015-16 they would bid for a share of a single national funding pot to support growth. The Greater Birmingham Project will be a chance to find out how such policy would work.
Lord Heseltine said: "Birmingham has volunteered to create the model that the whole of England can follow but the only way for this to endure is to make it work and return power to the people who create the success in the first place."
Andy Street, chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "Over the next three months we will work together – as a city region – with Lord Heseltine's team and the Treasury to develop a business plan which will focus on the wealth creation opportunities under the existing local government structure."
He added: "We will seek to clearly demonstrate the difference between the current performance and that which is possible in the plan – this is the 'economic dividend'. We believe that with access to a single pot and devolved powers, we can achieve far more than is currently the case."