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Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership Board hands the baton to Cumberland and Westmorland and Furness Councils

At its Board meeting on 22 March 2024, the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) finalised the arrangements to transfer its responsibilities for economic growth to Local Government, in line with the Government’s decision that funding to LEPs in England would cease, which was announced on 4 August 2023.

This means that the LEP, one of the best performing in the country, will transfer its staff and contractual activities to Cumberland Council as from 1 April 2024.

In Cumbria, Cumberland Council will take over responsibility on behalf of both itself and Westmorland and Furness Council for the delivery of economic activity across the whole of Cumbria, including delivering government funded activity to support businesses and the economy.

The LEP’s staff, who successfully deliver a wide range of business support, skills and advice programmes, including Skills Bootcamps, Careers and Enterprise and international relationships will transfer to Cumberland Council under TUPE arrangements.

Since 2016 LEP’s record includes successful delivery of the £60m Growth Deal programme, which:

  • Levered in £109m of private sector investment
  • helped to secure 2,350 jobs and create 1,000 new jobs
  • provided broadband access to over 11,000 businesses

Lord Inglewood, Chair of CLEP, said: “This decision has been made by Government and as such we are working productively and cordially to achieve the best possible outcome for Cumbria, our economy, our businesses, our staff and everyone who lives or works in Cumberland and Westmorland and Furness.

“We are not disappearing overnight and are working with our Local Government colleagues to agree a transitional period, in which the LEP will act as the Economic Growth Body, until the new body is in place. We will also be maintaining our existing governance structure so that the voice of business and other stakeholders is heard, alongside delivering some of our work programmes and grant funding programmes to businesses.

“The intention is that this transitional period will run through until 30 September 2024, with the LEP increasingly moving into its ‘sunset’ phase as that date gets closer and as the new Economic Growth Body moves into its ‘sunrise’ phase.

During a transition phase the LEP will continue to operate its partnership bodies including Sector Panels, Strategy Groups and the Futures Forum until September 2024 when the Local Authorities’ new governance arrangements will be fully established.

Steve Cole, Deputy Chair of CLEP and CIO and Operational Improvement Director at BAE Systems, said: “The business community has made it clear that going forward it wants to have really strong active engagement with economic strategy and future strategic planning and to ensure that the independent business voice continues. These have been key priorities for the LEP, and it is essential that these are preserved because they are at the heart of taking the agenda forward successfully.

“I have seen at firsthand how CLEP has helped businesses to deliver on their priorities and we must make sure that this culture, commitment, focus and pace is not lost.”

Jo Lappin, CLEP Chief Executive added: “The LEP has two paramount concerns – to make sure that the key priorities of Cumbria’s economy and businesses are understood so that opportunities are secured and challenges addressed; and that the transfer of the CLEP Team to Cumberland Council goes really well and allows the team to concentrate on doing what it does so well - supporting Cumbria, its economy, its businesses and everyone who lives and works here.

“CLEP has made a real difference to Cumbria by investing in the necessary infrastructure to support growth, getting Cumbria recognised as a credible contender for national competitions and by bringing the business community together to address the things that really matter. Our activities have been focused on making sure that everybody benefits from economic opportunities. It is essential that this work continues.”

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