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Accountants can play a key role in helping support local businesses affected by funding cuts, says Vibrant Accountancy owner

ACCOUNTANTS can play a key role in helping support local businesses affected by funding cuts, as announced in the Government’s most recent budget.


That is what Bev Wakefield, owner of award-winning Vibrant Accountancy, believes. It comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced plans to cut the £10.5million of funding for Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) – partnerships between local authorities and businesses – from April 2024, handing power from LEPs to councils.


Since the announcement in March, there has been much talk about what happens next with concerns that folding all the LEPs into local government risks losing a forum that currently brings together more than 2,000 business leaders, 350 further education college and university leaders, and 200 local politicians in existing schemes.


There are currently 38 LEPs across the UK with the local one in Derby being D2N2. Their aim is to drive productivity and job creation led by a business chair and board members who are leaders of local businesses and public bodies.


Bev said: “The growth hubs supported by LEPs provide valuable resources and support to help businesses thrive, and their closure could have a significant impact on the ability of local businesses to grow and create jobs.


“Accountants should advise their clients to stay informed about any changes to LEP funding and take proactive steps to prepare for potential funding cuts. This could include exploring alternative sources of funding or looking for other ways to access business support services.


“Additionally, accountants and clients should consider the potential impact of LEP funding cuts on their own business. Depending on the industry and location, businesses may be more or less affected by the closure of growth hubs. Accountants can help clients assess their exposure to this risk and develop contingency plans to mitigate any potential negative impact.


“It is likely the councils will now be providing the funding directly without the use of LEPs such as the levelling up fund which is being billed as its replacement.”


Bev added that the potential loss of support for local businesses could have a wider impact on the community, but that companies such as Vibrant Accountancy – which offers business support across the UK – can help.


“Many businesses and clients are concerned about the potential loss of support for local businesses and the wider economy,” said Bev, “small businesses rely on the support provided by growth hubs and LEPs to help them grow and succeed.


“Without this help, many businesses could struggle to access the resources and expertise they need. This could, ultimately, lead to job losses and a slowdown in economic growth and job creation.


“I do, however, believe this is where accountants can step in, by helping provide similar functions that the LEPs provide on a smaller scale to our clients. This means that they will continue to get the support with growth hubs, and it will be even more of our role to ensure that we’re helping our business owners thrive and grow.”

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