The Government has announced that a White Paper is to be published which will outline the scrapping of the RDAs, which will be replaced with Local Enterprise Partnerships.
The Design Council says seven of the nine RDAs in the country are currently signed up to deliver Designing Demand – a programme which helps businesses use design – and they will continue to deliver it in the short-to-medium term. It adds that following the publication of the White Paper it will announce a new delivery mechanism for the programme.
Ellie Runcie, the Designing Demand national programme director, says, ‘The Chancellor said that we need to put up a sign above Britain saying “open for business”, and we are putting design right at the heart of that drive by helping create design-led, innovative, successful companies.’
She adds, ‘Having anticipated the possible abolition of the RDAs for some time, we have been working on a new mechanism for delivery of our vital design support services, and we’ll be announcing this in due course.’
Meanwhile, some regional design forums, which currently receive funding through the RDAs, have expressed concern over the plan to scrap them.
Roger Proctor, chairman of the South West Design Forum, raises fears that the LEPs might show a political bias, as opposed to the independent RDAs. He adds, ‘My worry is that the forums are made up of volunteers, and it’s easier for them to deal with one body than with three.’
He adds, ‘When we talk about the big society, it seems a shame that we are making life more difficult for the people giving their time to deliver that.’