Winning the LEP funding game

Leeds was the big winner of the Growth Deal settlements with Local Enterprise Partnerships last month. Antony Oliver talks to Leeds City Region LEP board member and WYG chief executive Paul Hamer about the secrets of the success.

Paul Hamer, WYG

Business Leeds City Region LEP secured a whopping £573M from the Government’s latest Local Growth Fund allocation to support economic growth in the area over the next six years.

In total the overall LEP settlements amount to some £2bn a year and will be rolled out over the next six years bringing the total committed support devolved to the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships to spend on homes, transport and skills projects across England regions to £12bn.

"We developed a proposal that showed strategic ambition but with an ability to deliver. One of the benefits of strong private leadership is that we have run the LEP with private sector influences – it is output based and that has allowed us to succeed." Paul Hamer.

In Leeds the settlement includes:

  • £62M of new funding confirmed for 2015/16,
  • £233.3M for 2016/17 to 2021 to add to the
  • £277M previously committed as part of Local Growth Deal funding for the area

It will also bring forward at least £340M of additional investment from local partners and the private sector to create a total new investment package of £912M for the Leeds City Region area.

The Growth Deal will bring together local, national and private funding as well as new freedoms and flexibilities to focus on three key priority areas as identified in the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan:

  • Improving transport connectivity,
  • accelerating housing growth and town centre regeneration
  • developing a skilled and flexible workforce

By 2021, the LEP expects that at least 8,000 jobs will be created and allow 1,000 homes to be built. 

Q: Leeds City Region has secured £573M from the Local Growth Fund. Why do you think the bid was so successful?

A: When we first set up the LEP we all saw a region that was already making a huge contribution but that was still relatively unknown and yet to fulfil its potential. We developed a proposal that showed strategic ambition but with an ability to deliver. One of the benefits of strong private leadership is that we have run the LEP with private sector influences – it is output based and that has allowed us to succeed. 

Q: Was everything in you strategy approved?

A: No. We didn’t get everything that we asked for. You have to be realistic about the pressure that continues on the public purse. So we have prioritised the deal that got done. Some of our projects are already in place but there are many other areas where we will be thinking about switching resources.

Q: Clearly having the HS2 project on the horizon help your strategy. Was that key to success?

A: There is a very clear ambition by government to rebalance the economy and the HS2 project and LEPs now make the policies join up. It is accepted that the north can make a bigger contribution to national economic growth. This strategy will help that. 

Q: How do you engage the private sector?

A: The key objectives are gross value added growth, new employment and making the region a great place to work. We asked what projects would allow us to move forward most quickly and how could we get major private sector investment. The Energy Hub project is a great example – without the funds to progress the project it just sat on paper as an idea.

Q: How important is this settlement to local SMEs in the regions and businesses such as WYG?

A: WYG has been in Leeds for 50 years and certainly this LEP settlement should be good for business. But while I sit on the LEP panel I do so to help the LEP not to win work for WYG per se. But a considerable amount of money must find its way into local SMEs. As a LEP we must engage with and promote the local supply chain. We must create commercial visibility around the opportunities because that is where the greatest benefit will come to the region.

Key projects:

West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund: Significant investments in inter-city and intra-city connectivity schemes.

Skills capital programme: Investment in further education colleges and training providers that will support sectors which are likely to generate the largest contribution to economic growth.

Business Growth Programme: Funding that will provide for capital grants for businesses.

Energy Hub: Specialist vehicle responsible for the development of a pipeline of new energy projects 

Resource smart business support: tailored support to small and medium sized enterprises to reduce resource costs and increase productivity and competitiveness.

One City Park: Bradford: Transformation of Bradford city centre

East Leeds extension: strategic development for housing growth.

City Fields, Wakefield: strategic development for housing growth.

York Central: Regeneration site that will accommodate housing, office, retail and leisure within a 1M sq ft urban extension

Halifax Town Centre: Part of the wider Halifax Town Centre renaissance plan.

BioVale, York: Innovation cluster for biotechnology.

Horse Close, Craven: A key site for employment and housing in Skipton.

If you would like to contact Antony Oliver about this, or any other story, please email