Businesses welcome Lord Heseltine's growth analysis
by business editor Trevor
A chamber chief has welcomed Lord Heseltine’s call for a growth
strategy with more help for local economies like Kent.
The peer and former trade secretary criticises the government in
his wide-ranging review 'No Stone Unturned in Pursuit of Growth:
One Man's Vision' published today.
He writes that big government does not work because officials
and ministers are "not that clever".
"Government must now reverse the trend of the past century and
unleash the dynamic potential of our local economies.
"The government is committed to a local agenda. Is that policy
or slogan? There are encouraging signs to believe it is policy but
so far we have only seen the first steps."
He calls on the government for a national growth strategy, with
a national growth council chaired by the Prime Minister, better
procurement, closer co-operation between government and business
and a more urgent planning system.
Lord Heseltine, who visited Margate in May 2011 and was
influential in gaining £35m of Regional Growth Fund money for east
Kent, says more decision-making and resources should be devolved to
Local Enterprise Partnerships like the South East LEP
(SELEP)covering Kent, Essex and East Sussex.
They should develop their own tailored economic plans and
compete for a share of a single national pot to support growth.
Chambers of commerce should play a bigger role in business
support and local growth. They are "a constant presence, have a
unique international status, are based in local businesses
communities, are independent and have an existing structure that
can be built on".
Jo James, chief executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of
Commerce - an accredited member of the British Chambers of Commerce
(BCC) with member businesses in Ashford, Canterbury, Maidstone,
West Kent, Dartford, Gravesham and Medway, said: "Lord Heseltine’s
review is impressive and wide-ranging which makes many important
recommendations, all of which have the potential to impact
significantly on economic growth – which is by far the most urgent
problem that needs to be dealt with at present.
"It is therefore most welcome and I sincerely hope that the
government will consider it carefully and act upon it where
She welcomed a greater role for chambers, working with SELEP.
"We could end up with an economic infrastructure which is heavily
influenced by the right place for that influence to spring from –
local business communities. I very much look forward to any
developments along these lines."
John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: "His key point is
that we need more local action and leadership, which must be right.
LEPs have so far lacked the power and resources to impact local
growth. Given this review highlights a number of additional areas
in which LEPs can help support private sector activity, it is even
more vital that they are given appropriate resources to help them
to meet this challenge."
BCC director-general John Longworth, said: “We welcome the fact
that Lord Heseltine has recognised that Chambers of Commerce are
local, resilient, independent, internationally-focused and
pro-active in their communities. We are pleased that he believes
Chambers can continue to play a central part in making local growth
He thought Lord Heseltine's analysis compelling, but was
concerned that his "prescription for action focuses too much on
institutions, rather than on the fundamental barriers to business
Business Secretary Vince Cable said his findings showed where
government "can improve its performance in delivering better
Chancellor George Osborne said: "I wanted Lord Heseltine to do
what he does best: challenge received wisdom and give us ideas on
how to bring government and industry together. He has done exactly
that. This is a report bursting with ideas and we will study it