Important step in transfer of Local Enterprise Partnership functions to local authorities in Cumbria

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Cumberland Council and Westmorland and Furness Council have taken important steps in approving proposals for the integration of programmes and functions previously delivered by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) into local authorities. 

The proposals were agreed at Cumberland Council’s Executive meeting in Carlisle on 19 March and Westmorland and Furness’s Cabinet in Kendal today (26 March) in line with Government guidance and will see the CLEP staff transfer into Cumberland Council with a new Cumbria Economic Growth team being established.  

A key aspect of the proposal is that although Cumberland will be the delivery authority with responsibility for the CLEP functions and programmes from 1 April 2024, the programmes and functions will continue to be delivered across the Cumbria geography.  

This requires both Cumberland and Westmorland and Furness Councils to work together to support the integration of LEP functions. The councils have therefore also agreed that the Joint Executive Committee provides the basis of joint working and collaboration on strategic economic growth across the Cumbria geography.  

Under the proposals, both councils will work closely with the CLEP to facilitate a smooth transition and to ensure business continuity as far as possible. The LEP’s staff, who successfully deliver a wide range of business support and advice programmes, including the Skills Bootcamps, Careers and Enterprise activity as well as the Growth Hub will continue to do so.   

The proposals are also being considered by the Joint Executive Committee on 28 March. Following approval by all relevant committees, the transition will be implemented from 1 April 2024 with the CLEP company closing on 30 September 2024.   

Speaking on the proposals, Cllr Mark Fryer, Cumberland Council Leader and Executive member with responsibility for economic development, said: “This demonstrates a really important step towards transferring the functions and programmes previously under the Local Enterprise Partnership into the local authorities in Cumbria. I look forward to working with colleagues in Westmorland and Furness Council to implement the agreements and, more importantly, to ensuring that we can continue to support the business voice across Cumbria. 

“I would like to thank everyone involved in delivering this programme of work at pace, including Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership colleagues who have shared their knowledge and experience. We will continue to work closely with them during the transition period to ensure that the close links with the business community and sectors are maintained and strengthened.”

Cllr Jonathan Brook, Leader of Westmorland and Furness Council and Portfolio Holder for Strategic Partnerships and Economy, welcomed the joint effort to support inclusive and sustainable growth for Cumbria. 

He said: “This is an exciting opportunity to build on the previous work of the CLEP and develop a new economic strategy for Cumbria. These changes will provide the foundation for our work, to support future growth that will benefit all our communities. 

“However, initially our focus will be on working collaboratively with partners to ensure support and business continuity across the whole area.” 

Lord Inglewood, Chair of Cumbria LEP said: “Cumbria LEP is regarded as one of the best performing LEPs in the country and we will be working closely with Cumberland and Westmorland and Furness Councils to ensure that the strategic, analytical, co-ordination and advocacy work will go forward with focus, pace and efficiency.  

“We have a very proud delivery record, achieving all of the targets and outcomes that have been set for us by Government. That must not fall away.” 

He added: “And while the LEP enters its ‘sunset’ phase there will be no let-up in delivery of our plans and commitment to our businesses. We have and will continue to offer our ongoing support, advice, and counsel to the local authorities in helping them to continue what we have been doing under the new ‘sunrise’ arrangements that they now have responsibility for establishing.”