Guidance for Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and local and combined authorities: integration of LEP functions into local democratic institutions
1. Since the publication of the Levelling Up White Paper, government has made strong progress on extending devolution across England and remains committed to empowering local leaders by integrating Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) functions into local democratic institutions. The Spring Budget 2023 set out that government was minded to withdraw central government support (core funding) for LEPs from April 2024 and to transfer LEP functions to local authorities, where appropriate and where not already delivered by combined authorities.
2. Following an information gathering exercise led by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and the Department for Business and Trade, the government has confirmed its ‘minded to’ decision.
3. Government’s sponsorship and core funding of LEPs will now cease. As private enterprises, LEPs may choose to continue operating, but government will now support local authorities to take on LEPs’ functions as set out in the March 2022 LEP integration guidance and previously supported by annual core funding – namely, business representation, strategic economic planning, and responsibility for the delivery of government programmes where directed. Government expects these functions to be exercised by upper tier local authorities (working in collaboration with other upper tier local authorities as appropriate), where they are not already delivered by a combined authority, or in areas where a devolution deal is not yet agreed.
4. There is overlap between some of the functions being discharged by LEPs, local authorities and combined authorities, as well as a high level of integration of LEP functions in mayoral combined authority (MCA) areas. Government’s view is that there is likely to be scope for greater join-up, efficiencies, and clarity for the private sector by these functions being discharged within mayoral combined authorities, devolution deal areas, and upper tier local authorities, working together as appropriate.
5. Government will therefore provide some revenue funding to local and combined authorities in 2024/25 to support them to deliver the functions currently delivered by LEPs. Details of this support will be confirmed in due course. Funding beyond 2024/25 will be subject to future Spending Review decisions.