The nine regional development agencies (RDAs) across England are to be scrapped according to Budget documents.
Set up by the Labour government, RDAs were established to work with local businesses to help development, employment, business efficiency and skills. In recent months there has been growing concerns about the value for money delivered by some RDAs and now it appears as if they have run out of time.
Will they be missed is a question that people are asking. Amid a growing criticism by some for failing to close regional divides, the closure is well over due. The Taxpayers Alliance, which represents some taxpayers, described the agencies as an “unnecessary and expensive layer of bureaucracy that stifle genuine private enterprise”.
It said that too many grants went to public bodies, and it criticised the support RDAs give to big firms with large turnovers.
Collectively, the nine RDAs employ about 3,400 people. A spokesman for one of those affected, the South West RDA, said it accepted the plans and recognised “that funding available for economic development work will be more limited in the next few years given the need to tackle the public deficit”.
The RDAs are to be replaced by Local Enterprise Partnerships in a process that will begin with a White Paper, to be published later in the summer. The government said replacing the agencies was aimed at “improved co-ordination” of investment in the economy.
A Treasury spokeswoman said that “local leaders” would be involved in the new partnerships. “They will have the advantage of understanding the particular needs of the area,” she said.
Full details will be set out in the White Paper, to be published later in the summer.