AN ANALYSIS OF LOCAL ENTERPRISE PARTNERSHIPS’ PLANS
In the wake of the recession – the biggest test of economic resilience in decades – the tools of national and local government have been re-geared for growth. This appears to be paying some dividends, as the economy is slowly but surely showing signs of a burgeoning recovery. However, the basis of that recovery is still in question. Longterm youth unemployment is persistently high. Business investment and the balance of trade remain significant concerns, as does household debt. And there remain major disparities in the relative performance of different cities and regions; in some areas the fragility of earlier growth has been exposed, as investment has drained away.
The severity of the recession has also caused a profound crisis in thinking about the economy, and in particular about the nature of economic growth, with increasing attention being paid to ideas of sustainability and economic ‘resilience’. While the concept of resilience is often considered ‘fuzzy’ (Pendall et al 2009), a working definition might be ‘the ability of an economy to adapt, both to shocks and to longterm changes’.
The importance of theories of resilience is that they raise the legitimate concern that, in recovering from the recession, policymakers may not do enough to learn the lessons of the past and, worse still, inadvertently sow the seeds of a future economic crisis. The chancellor announced in his most recent budget that he was ‘building a resilient economy’, so it is right to question the extent to which this is true, and whether resilience really is embedded in the government’s strategy for economic growth. This paper will begin to undertake that task, with particular focus on a key aspect of the government’s local growth strategy: local enterprise partnerships.
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