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April 29, 2014, by Kelly Cookson

What do SMEs know about Local Enterprise Partnerships?

In the March 2014 Business Barometer survey, our panel of UK small business owners and business advisers were asked what they know about Local Enterprise Partnerships.

The responses from small business owners were as follows:

Are you aware of Local Enterprise Partnerships? 
Yes 61.3%
No 27.5%
Not sure 11.3%


Do you know which Local Enterprise Partnership covers your local authority area? 
Yes 45%
No 43.8%
Not sure 11.3%

When asked “What would you expect to be on offer from your Local Enterprise Partnership?” there was a strong feeling that LEPs should be focusing on economic growth for their region and that SMEs were the key to achieving this growth. Some respondents thought that the LEP should be offering advice specifically tailored to small businesses and should signpost them to available funding to help them to grow. Many respondents said they actually had no idea what their LEP was offering.

When thinking about sources of business advice outside of the LEP, panellists were asked about where they would typically go to first.

Of the following, to whom would you typically turn to first when seeking business advice and support? 
Accountant 23.8%
Bank manager 1.3%
Business Adviser or Consultant (specialist government provision e.g. UKTI) 2.5%
Business Adviser or Consultant (independent) 12.5%
Business colleagues 25%
Friends and Family 2.5%
Trade Association or other Representative Organisation 8.8%
Nobody in particular 11.3%
Other 12.5%


UK business advisers were asked what they knew about Local Enterprise Partnerships:

Are you aware of Local Enterprise Partnerships? 
Yes 80.7%
No 13.3%
Not sure 6%


Do you know which Local Enterprise Partnership covers your local authority area? 
Yes 67.5%
No 21.7%
Not sure 10.8%

As is to be expected, business advisers were more clued up on what LEPs are offering. As well as being a source of advice for businesses, advisers said that LEPs should be acting as cheerleaders for their local areas and should signpost SMEs to funding opportunities.

Advisers were also asked about how often their clients needed external financial advice:

How often do the companies you work with feel the need for external financial advice? 
Very frequently 3.6%
Frequently 22.9%
Occasionally 54.2%
Rarely 12%
Very rarely 6%
Never 1.2%

Adviser panellist, Michael Reid, commented: “LEPs publicise themselves poorly. They are also difficult to get an answer from for particular problems. We hope they are around for long enough to get good at what they do.”

A small business owner panellist had this to say about LEPs: “They haven’t effectively replaced RDAs, and it has become very difficult for small businesses to access European funding. Our LEP seems to think it isn’t tasked with business support. Growth in the economy will only happen through small businesses, and with proper Government support.”

The UK Business Barometer and UK Business Adviser Barometer surveys are ran by the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The results of the surveys are instantly processed and posted on their respective websites: www.ukbb.ac and www.ukbab.ac

Businesses and advisers wishing to contribute as panellists on the project can register via the websites.

The UK Business Barometer has a group on LinkedIn and can be followed on Twitter @UKBB_UoN

Posted in Business BarometerGovernmentSMEs