The government has confirmed that it is preparing to withdraw funding for Local Enterprise Partnerships across England, including Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, had announced the decision at this year's Spring Budget, and it was confirmed in a letter sent to LEPs earlier this month.

Responsibilities for functions previously held by Hertfordshire LEP - business representation, strategic economic planning, and delivering government programmes where directed - will now be transferred to Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) as the upper tier local authority.

A government information gathering exercise found that the functions of LEPs and local authorities overlapped, and that there were "different perceived levels of benefit and engagement between LEPs and local authorities".

The government has said it will provide "some revenue funding" to local authorities in 2024/25 to help them deliver the functions that are currently the responsibility of the LEP.

The amount of this funding has not yet been announced.

The letter sent to LEPs by Dehenna Davison, minister for levelling up, and Kevin Hollinrake, minister for enterprise, markets and small business, said: "We would like to thank LEPs and their staff for their hard work in supporting and driving local economic growth across England since 2011.

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"We remain enormously appreciative of all the work LEPs have done in advising and supporting businesses and local decision makers for more than a decade, including through EU Exit and the COVID-19 pandemic."

LEPs were introduced by the Conservative-led coalition government that came to power in 2010, and replaced Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). LEPS covered, comparatively, much smaller areas.

Adrian Hawkins, who became chair of Herts LEP earlier this year, said: "As I advised at my appointment to the role of chair, the Herts LEP is one of the most successful in the UK and we have been planning our integration with HCC for the past two years.

"We have been coterminous with county since our inception and our staff are employed by the county and HCC has been our accountable body from the start.

"We will continue to serve the county, its residents and our businesses regardless of government announcements. We continue to look forward to the challenges ahead."

Cllr Richard Roberts, leader of HCC, said: “We welcome the clarity provided by the government in the recent announcement regarding the transfer of LEP functions to upper tier local authorities.

"Since the Hertfordshire LEP was established, the county council has worked closely with the LEP, as well as Hertfordshire’s district and borough councils, to drive forward our ambition that Hertfordshire has a strong economy in which local businesses are nurtured and new investors are attracted to our county.

"We therefore view this change as a chance to integrate our work on sustainable economic growth even more closely.

"We’re currently working with the LEP to ensure that the transfer of LEP functions is as smooth as possible and causes minimal disruption to the great work already underway and planned.”

Economic analysis for the England-wide County Councils Network shows that county and rural areas are forecast to have much slower growth than urban areas - where, in most cases, devolution deals mean that LEP functions and funding are already integrated.

Cllr Tim Oliver, chairman of the nationwide County Councils Network, said last month: “The government’s ‘minded to’ indication that it was to abolish LEPs and transfer them to local authorities was long overdue.

“For too long, councils in county areas have been hamstrung in their ability to drive economic growth lacking the powers enjoyed by urban and city authorities with mayors.

"As today’s economic analysis shows, growth in those areas far outstrips county locations, with our rural areas only bouncing back to pre-pandemic output five years after the event.

"We need all the tools in our armoury to try and close the gap, and LEP functions would be another string to our economic growth bow."