IT is becoming increasingly difficult to know which way to turn on the Government's plans for how money is spent in the regions.

Last October, Lord Heseltine - in a study requested by David Cameron - called for local enterprise partnerships (LEPS) to be given significant spending powers  to end decades of over-centralisation.

Chancellor George Osborne has accepted the Heseltine report in principle and is preparing to create limited spending pots. We will know how "limited" in June.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, however, clearly has a different view, saying yesterday that LEPS are not capable of handling large sums of public money, as Lord Heseltine proposes. Ouch!

The LEPs were, of course, the Government's big idea to replace the regional development agencies which existed under the previous Government and helped dictate spending in the regions.

Now, we have open disagreements in the higher echelons of the Government about what those organisations should be doing and how much influence they should have.

In addition, a region like the North-East has two LEPS, one calling itself the North-East LEP, representing the northern chunk of the region, and another banging the drum for the southern sub-region known as the Tees Valley.

They are pursuing their own separate economic strategies but we are assured they are working together on the issues which affect the whole of the region.

Frankly, it all seems a bit of a muddle.