Devolution to Leeds City Region creates jobs and helps businesses
An independent study has found that business growth stimulated by the LEP has created jobs in the Leeds City Region at a much lower cost than equivalent national growth programmes, demonstrating the benefits of devolution to local areas.
The LEP’s grant funding programme, established to support growing small businesses in the region, has exceeded all targets including job creation, leverage of private finance and shows outstanding value for money on cost per job. Jobs have been created at an average cost per job of £7,000 in Leeds City Region compared with £37,400 through the government’s national Regional Growth Fund.
The evaluation, conducted by Warwick Economics and Development (WECD), showed that 90% of businesses taking part in the survey rated the grant funding programme as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. The study found that the grants have enabled large numbers of projects to go ahead that would have otherwise been stalled or terminated due to lack of funding. It also found the funding has acted as a catalyst for businesses to improve or expand their operations and at a time when the economy is improving and businesses begin to reconsider projects that had previously been on hold.
The funding programme, being delivered locally, has supported more than 350 companies in Leeds City Region, achieving near to 3,500 jobs committed against a target of 2,500 and levering in more than £185 million from the private sector – well above the target of £120 million.
Councillor Wakefield Leader of Leeds City Council and Chair of the LEP’s Investment Panel said: “From a target cost per job of £10,000 I am delighted this report has shown we have achieved a cost per job of almost £7,000, well exceeding the national average. This is a fantastic example of how devolved funding, delivered locally, is benefitting businesses and growing the regional economy.
“I am particularly pleased to hear of businesses up skilling their workforce thanks to investment in new equipment and facilities and to learn of so many new jobs and apprenticeships created for local people.”
Cllr Peter Box, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said: "This research proves, yet again, that the best way to stimulate economic growth in the north is to devolve responsibility to the north's local authorities.
“The figures speak for themselves; businesses are going forward with projects that would have been put on the back burner and it’s all down to the LEP grant funding programme.
“By working together, the Leeds City Region authorities have been able to get much-needed funds into local businesses faster and more efficiently than similar national schemes. And it provides further evidence that further devolution is the best and only way to build upon these successes.”
The study highlights the LEP grants are seen by businesses as providing much-needed funding which businesses are finding difficult to source elsewhere. One business respondent taking part in the survey said: “Without this grant we would not have been able to carry out the works and would not have been in a position to employ 7 more people. Also this has helped the company’s short to medium term future with the improvement in margins and productivity. So all in all the support was absolutely vital.”
The evaluation emphasises the majority of grants allocated to small and medium sized businesses in the manufacturing sector with businesses in the business services and creative and digital sector also receiving significant funds. Businesses across all districts in the City Region received financial support, with most investment going towards capital equipment, property restoration and research and development.
LEP Chair, Roger Marsh, commented: “We have some of the UK’ most enterprising, ambitious and innovative business here in Leeds City Region, and I am delighted that our grant funding programme has enabled these businesses to create new jobs and realise their growth ambitions.
“I welcome the findings of this independent report which highlights the impact our funding is having on small businesses. With further funding available as a result of our £1bn Growth Deal, I encourage more businesses to talk to the LEP and find out how we can work together to unlock the potential of the region and accelerate growth.”