This piece was written for the LEP Network and discusses the benefits for Local Enterprise Partnerships of quantifying the impact they are having.
With issues such as poor productivity, devolution, industrial strategy, skills needs, apprenticeships, and of course the impacts of Brexit, we are clearly in a time of huge economic challenges. LEPs are in many ways at the heart of each of these issues, and so will be crucial to finding successful solutions. Yet how well placed LEPs are to tackling these issues is a question worth examining.
According to Leading the Way, a research project carried out by Metro-Dynamics on behalf of the LEP Network at the end of last year, LEPs are actually “a good solution for local growth in the current English economic and political situation.” The authors go on to highlight a number of ways that LEPs are currently making a big difference, including:
- The extent to which LEPs have a unique impact in their local economies
- The value they bring in terms of economic growth and increased productivity
- The individual approaches they have developed to reflect differences in place, population, economics and business
- The pivotal role they play in bringing partners together and building a sense of common purpose around growth and productivity
- The central role they are playing in developing and delivering industrial strategy
What Leading the Way does is to use a combination of short case studies and examples to helpfully state the case that LEPs are vital for tackling local and regional economic issues. But the question arises as to whether we can go a stage further and flesh out the claims of vital impact with actual numbers? Or to put it another way, we know that LEPs have a collective responsibility for £7.3bn of local growth funding, set to grow to around £12bn by 2021, but is there a return on investment for this spending that can be tangibly measured in terms of pounds and pence?
The answer to these questions is yes. Each activity and area of funding that a LEP is engaged in can be measured by GVA, as well as jobs, as a percentage of the regional economy in which the LEP is based. This would include areas such as:
- Real Estate
- Skills Agenda Impact
- Business Development
- Other areas specific to your LEP’s agenda
However, whilst it’s all well and good saying that LEP impact can be quantified, the question that arises is why this should be done. What would be the benefits? Briefly, here are three reasons:
Firstly, saying you have a huge and vital impact on your regional economy is one thing; being able to point to actual figures that demonstrate the claim is another. Having impact numbers is really like putting flesh on the bones of the claim that your LEP is vital to your region.
Secondly, quantifying economic impact is an extremely powerful lobbying and public communications tool. Simply put, being able to demonstrate the impact you are already having on your region is a great way of leveraging increased funding in the future. What is more, having this information out in the public domain is a good way of reminding those in Government of the significance of your work.
Thirdly, an actual numerical value expressing the impact of a LEP can be used as a reporting metric or benchmark against future performance. This is especially valuable for organisations who want to be able to measure success and growth over time.
Having carried out over 1,000 Economic Impact Studies worldwide, with over 100 in the UK, we have seen time and time again how organisations and institutions have benefited from having actual, quantifiable figures at their disposal. For example, the study we carried out on Colleges Scotland found that collectively they impact the Scottish economy to the tune of £15billion, whilst a recent study for the Collab Group of Colleges found that they have a combined impact of £33.2billion. Figures like these couldn’t help but attract the attention of key industry figures, the national press and MPs (see here and here for details).
That LEPs are playing a vital role in their region is not in doubt. But with today’s huge economic challenges there will inevitably come more scrutiny. By articulating their impact, LEPs can meet this increased scrutiny with real figures that demonstrate just how vital they are, both to their region, and to the Government’s growth plans.
For more information about how we can quantify the impact of your LEP, contact Andy Durman at firstname.lastname@example.org