Worcestershire LEP Chair, Paul Walker MBE – March Update

I would like to start this column by introducing myself. I am the chair of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), often referred to as the Worcestershire LEP or WLEP. The question that often follows that, is ‘what is a LEP?’. LEPs were created to bring business, higher and further education and the public sector together with local government to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing each specific region.

LEPs have been around for more than 10 years, with over 38 partnerships based across England at one stage. However, back in 2018 there was a national Government review into LEPs to assess their value and effectiveness. The outcome of this report was that whilst recognising that LEPs were creating positive growth in their areas, they needed to be linked with local democratically elected institutions. Therefore, late in 2023 it was confirmed that the funding for LEPs would now be transferred to the upper tier local authority in the LEP area.

For Worcestershire this is the County Council, but the Worcestershire LEP and County Council have had a remarkable relationship over the past decade, recognising the importance of a partnership approach and consequently being able to influence more, action more and ultimately deliver more for Worcestershire. Over the last 10 years the LEP has an impressive list of achievements across the County, which you can find out more about on our website. www.wlep.co.uk

The County Council have confirmed that they will continue to support the current LEP model, therefore ensuring that the partnership that has been built with the business community, higher and further education institutions and public sector continues to drive innovation, skills and business support for the county.

These were they key issues discussed at our recent flagship event, ‘Worcestershire: The BIG Conversation’. This brought together over 200 attendees from the business community, higher and further education and public sector to discuss what needs to be done to accelerate economic growth in the County over the next 20 years. Attendees got to engage in a two-way discussion with the LEP and our partners about the challenges and opportunities facing the county and its businesses. This was just the start of a conversation and we want to engage with more organisations to help ensure that our strategy creates a connected, creative, dynamic economy for all.

I would like to encourage those readers that were unable to join us for our BIG Conversation event to watch the sessions back via our website and engage with us on the topics and discussion points. Please follow the link below.