A “significant revamp” of the Regional
Development Agencies (RDA) is needed to tackle poor economic performance outside the South East, an employers’ body has claimed.
association the EEF reported to the government that RDAs needed new roles and objectives to be effective.
The nine RDAs have a combined annual budget in excess of £2bn to promote prosperity across the UK. The EEF report said that despite rising employment, the RDAs had done little to lay foundations for stronger economic growth outside London and its surrounds.
EEF director-general Martin Temple said: “While the RDAs have made a difference in some key respects, so far, there has been little significant impact on our regional economies.
“Given the resources at their disposal, it is clear that the agencies have the potential to make a serious impact on the economies of the nine regions – but we cannot continue with the status quo.”
The EEF called for three key areas to be addressed by the revamp:
A pre-occupation with measuring outputs, such as the number of jobs created and the closing of regional disparities, rather than focusing on achieving a sustainable impact on regional productivity and competitiveness.
The focus on reducing disparities, which makes RDAs too inward-looking, operating within strict geographical boundaries that are not necessarily in the best interests of the region.
Better co-ordination between local, regional and national bodies in delivering improved economic performance, and giving businesses a voice in the production of their strategies.