NWPN update July 2014: LEP Growth Deals

By now most of you will have spotted and read the LEP Growth Deals that were announced on 7 July . These are really important announcements and when considered alongside the 2014-20 ESF programme represent a significant shift of resources and decision making to local level . They include the transfer of £330m of FE capital to LEPs for 15/16 and 16/17 ( £660m in total) and list the projects that are being supported together with the amount of local match that will be required .

Additionally they also announce that LEPs will have greater influence over the allocations of SFA budgets and greater control over any new funds . To me the direction of travel is obvious and is one that is shared by the main opposition party(Labour) as they launched the conclusions of the Adonis review last week which again proposed significant devolution of future skills budgets to local level .

You will want to look at your own local LEP growth deals as they also include specific local agreements that  LEPs have asked for eg Greater Manchester have secured £12m for 2 years from SFA budgets to support access to employment .

Turning now to NWPN activities following a really positive Board meeting in June . We discussed Apprenticeship Reform and the consultation response/lobbying activity that everyone has been progressing . We agreed that we need to continue  to push and argue ensuring that the voice of our employers is heard. Additionally though we also need to continue to make the case for public investment in  skills, recognising that with further spending cuts to come the skills budget is an easy target for government. We will continue to make the case up to the next election and beyond. We also agreed to strengthen our relationship with national and other regional/sub regional provider representative bodies. At regional level we are also looking to organise an apprenticeship trailblazer event for September, and a meeting between our Board and the chairs of each of the LEP skills and employment partnerships.

Have a good summer and I will produce my next update in early September