Headlines: August 25th, 2005

England’s Regional Development Agencies are not getting through well to local business and when they do get through they are failing to impress. This is the result of a poll by NOP of 500 members of the Institute of Directors. Launched in 1999 Regional Development Agencies were created in the English regions. Their mission is to transform the regions through sustainable economic development. Their role as strategic leaders is to influence and mobilise the efforts of regional partners across the public, private, community and voluntary sectors.The level of understanding of RDAs’ functions amongst the directors participating in the survey was generally low. Less than one third of members said that they understood the role and activities of the RDA in their region ‘quite well’ or ‘very well’. Only 17% of the directors surveyed had contacted their RDA over the course of the previous year for information or advice on business issues. The members surveyed were unimpressed with the Agencies’ awareness of the needs of businesses. Only 8% of those who had heard of their RDA agreed that it understood the needs of their organisation. A substantial body of directors feel that the Agencies lack both a prominent profile in their regions and
empathy with the needs of business.

Mike Harris, Business Policy Adviser at the IoD, said: “The findings of the survey suggest the RDAs face significant challenges. With comparatively limited budgets their remits appear to be too wide and the variations in regional economic performance they attempt to counter historically long-standing.