“Before my time it was fairly adversarial. There really was quite a sense of what do you need the Small Business Service for, we can do that, from the Regional Development Agencies. And we were looking at them as a group that was attempting to take over our turf. So it was all about ‘tanks on the lawn’ and all that.”
Martin Wyn Griffiths, CEO of the Small Business Service (2004)
In 1999, the Labour Party established eight Regional Development Agencies (RDA) to devolve power away from Central Government and put it back in the hands of local people. This quiet revolution stripped authority away from Civil Servants in London and transferred responsibility for economic strategy to the regions.
This chapter examines the political power game that initially held back the Regional Development Agencies and the subsequent quango conflict that crushed the Small Business Service.
In 2003, Regional Development Agencies were allocated £1.7 billion of taxpayer funds. Chapter 10 challenges the return on investment generated by the Localism movement.
It explains how the resulting drive for performance measurement diluted the value of support offered to small and medium sized businesses.