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Economic Growth

Volume 542: debated on Monday 12 March 2012

18. What steps he has taken to encourage local authorities to promote business and economic growth. (98971)

Local authorities have a key role in supporting local economic growth and promoting business in their areas. We have ensured that local places will receive the benefits of growth with the retention of business rates from April 2013. We will also pay £432 million to local authorities through the new homes bonus in 2012-13. We have also established 39 local enterprise partnerships, in which local authorities work with businesses to promote economic growth.

I thank the Secretary of State for that encouraging set of policies. Does he agree that local authorities must make planning decisions connected with business development quickly, and that they should be underpinned by rigorous and timely economic analysis?

My hon. Friend makes a very reasonable point. Local authorities will now be able to apply the proceeds of that growth, so their local populations will expect them to make timely decisions. Now that power has moved closer to local authorities, they have much greater responsibility to deliver these decisions on time.

The Mary Portas review will help with business growth. In my constituency, Formby has a parish council and Maghull has a town council. Will the Secretary of State confirm whether parish and town councils will qualify as accountable bodies for funding bids under the Portas review, or will the bids have to go through the borough or district councils?

I am afraid to say that, despite Formby being the apple of my eye and a wonderful place to invest, the process will be at borough level.