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Doomed to success

I have found myself using the phrase ‘doomed to success’ more and more often in relation to the plethora of government initiatives that have seen the light of day since the start of the coalition government.

This is not because this is something new; all governments are guilty. Its more a case of providing a rationale to persuade colleagues to get involved despite reservations.

Local enterprise partnerships (Leps) are a case in point.  After some initial third sector enthusiasm, when some thought ‘this is where the RDA money is going’, there came the general position of ‘is it really worth bothering with?’

Those who asked the second question, will at this point think the answer is clearly ‘no’.

There has been very little enthusiasm in most Leps to engage the sector meaningfully and the agenda, where people are aware of it, does not seem to lend itself to the sector.

My view is that however flawed you may perceive Leps to be, they are ‘doomed to success’ like so many initiatives that governments tie their credibility to. We keep being told there is no Plan B – so we can assume success has to be driven by Plan A.

I cannot see how the government can claim they are a success yet and undoubtedly increased pressure will come, especially from those in the private sector who have engaged in Leps, to provide more resources as well as increase their scope, power and authority.

This will prove irresistible to a government who will not be able to afford a spat with the private sector over the flagship economic development policy.  (They may even forget their aversion to quangos in the process!).

So what does this mean for the third sector?  We need to think about how we are engaging with Leps quickly before we see areas of work we have been heavily engaged in, such as skills, drift gradually into the remit of the anything but transparent Leps.

We need to learn the language, frame our message and make a concerted effort to play a key role with partners in all sectors to ensure that the economic recovery delivers the economic, socially and environmentally resilient places we need.  Otherwise Leps will simply be branded a success on a spurious measure that meets the needs of the incumbent government – because they truly are ‘doomed to success’.

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