The Government has ‘no real understanding’ of the impact of the £12bn Local Growth Fund, MPs said today.
It claimed that every £1 of local growth funding paid to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) could generate £4.81 in benefits.
However, a new report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) criticised the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for a lack of transparency and accountability, arguing that the £4.81 claim was an ‘unsubstantiated estimate’.
The PAC report found that there had been improvements to LEP governance and transparency, but added there is ‘still a long way to go’.
MHCLG receives quarterly performance data from LEPs, but the committee discovered that it did not use this to measure the impact of local growth funding nationally.
PAC chair Meg Hillier said: ‘LEPs are supposed to be an engine room of local economic growth but they have been dogged by a lack of local accountability and there is little evidence that they have levered in the promised private sector funds.'
The PAC report also found that LEPs underspent their Local Growth Fund allocations by more than £1.1bn in the three years to the end of 2017/18.
An MHCLG spokesperson said: ‘We continue to work with LEPs across England to further improve standards and ensure value for money in local growth spending.’