Tecs to be given economic role

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Indy Politics
TRAINING and enterprise councils which spend pounds 2bn of taxpayers' money, largely on schemes for the unemployed, are to be given a central role in the Government's drive for economic regeneration.

Six Cabinet ministers have put their names to the new 'strategic guidance for Tecs' which will cede considerable responsibility for growth to local business.

David Hunt, Secretary of State for Employment, yesterday urged each of the employer-led Tecs to produce a 'corporate plan' setting out a vision of development in its own area. 'The aim of these plans is to help achieve sustainable economic growth to boost employment, prosperity and the quality of life,' Mr Hunt told a Tec conference.

The policy is aimed at providing a voluntarist regional policy in place of the more interventionist system which has gradually been dismantled over the last 15 years.

The announcement forms Mr Hunt's answer to complaints from Tecs that most of their time and effort was spent running training and work schemes for the unemployed. Tec leaders wanted to put the 'enterprise' element of their function to be given a far higher profile. However, many Tec boards will baulk at yet another government initiative, given that their involvement is voluntary.

Mr Hunt yesterday insisted that the support of the six ministers, including Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, meant that it was endorsed by the Government as a whole.

Mr Hunt said the Tecs would work closely with the new regional government offices combining the main economic departments. They would also form partnerships with other key local organisations. Tecs would play a key role in administering the Single Regeneration Budget, which combined 20 separate programmes. Councils would be a senior partner in co-ordinating local services for business people as part of the Business Link programme.

Mr Hunt said the process would be enhanced by the Government's 'enabling framework' for voluntary mergers between Tecs and chambers of commerce.

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