EDDC Cabinet to discuss devolution and LEP on 8 February … councils only “influence” LEP

From Cabinet agenda – Owl summary: it has taken 5+ years for the participating councils to realise that the business people on the LEP are running rings round them and still the only thing councils can do is “influence” those same business people:

“Risk implications will continue to be addressed at all stages of these proposals.

The Secretary of State is yet to formally clarify his position on the HotSW devolution proposal although the overall policy direction seems to be becoming clearer.

In the circumstances the Leader feel that the partnership needs to move forward with the priority development of the HotSW Productivity Plan and that this can best be achieved through the establishment of a formal Joint Committee in place of the current informal governance arrangements. This will put a formal governance structure around the Productivity Plan preparation, approval and delivery so minimising risk to the County Council and the other partner authorities. It will give partners the ability to negotiate with Government at pace, particularly on the emerging Industrial Strategy but without the statutory commitment required to establish a Combined Authority.

Without a Productivity Plan and Joint Committee in place the Council and its partners will be at a disadvantage in negotiating and lobbying Government on a range or policy initiatives including the growth agenda and are likely to miss out on potential funding streams.

…..

The HotSW Joint Committee will provide a formal strategic partnership to complement and maximise the ability of local sub- regional arrangements to deliver their aspirations. It will allow the partners to collaborate to agree and deliver the Productivity Plan as well as engage effectively with the Government, other deal areas and other LEPs on a range of policy agendas. It will allow the partnership to test and improve its ability to work together as a potential precursor to the establishment of a Combined Authority at some point in the future. It will also provide a mechanism to work alongside and influence the LEP on strategic investment decisions affecting the HotSW area and to secure improvements to LEP governance and accountability.”

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1990083/combinedcabagenda080217final.pdf
(topic begins on page 107)

One thought on “EDDC Cabinet to discuss devolution and LEP on 8 February … councils only “influence” LEP

  1. In the light of the concern over the future of the NHS it may be worth reminding ourselves just what Heart of the South West LEP proposed, on our behalf, in their 2015 Devolution Statement of Intent:

    We [HOTSW] will:

    • Increase productivity by reducing ill-health and reliance on the state

    • Reduce overall need for formal health and social care services

    • Reduce the cost of health and social care

    • Help more people with long-term illnesses or mental ill-health start or return to work

    What we need:

    • Freedom to pool budgets and direct resources to local need

    • Freedom to develop a commissioning framework that supports local decision-making

    • Freedom to establish effective, integrated governance and delivery structures

    • Freedom to develop local metrics and incentives

    (The associated productivity prospectus says something which sounds even more sinister: “A healthier population means lower public sector costs and increased economic activity. To fill 163,000 more jobs [by 2030] we must engage the non-working population in the labour market which will require a significant health and care contribution.”)

    Here is what the Public Accounts Committee concluded about LEPs and devolution in its report of 27 June 2016. (Kevin Foster MP, Conservative Torbay, is a Committee member)

    “9. It is alarming that LEPs are not meeting basic standards of governance and transparency, such as disclosing conflicts of interest to the public. LEPs are led by the private sector, and stakeholders have raised concerns that they are dominated by vested interests that do not properly represent their business communities. There is a disconnect between decisions being made by local business leaders and accountability working via local authorities. It is therefore crucial that LEPs demonstrate a high standard of governance and transparency over decision making, at least equal to the minimum standards set out by government in the assurance framework. It is of great concern that many LEPs appear not be meeting these minimum standards. The scale of LEP activity and the sums involved necessitate that LEPs and central government be pro-active in assuring the public that decisions are made with complete probity. The fact that 42% of LEPs do not publish a register of interests is clearly a risk to ensuring that decisions are made free from any actual or perceived conflicts of interest. The varying presentation and detail of financial information across LEPs also makes it difficult to draw meaningful conclusions or make comparisons across LEPs on how they spend public money.”

    https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmpubacc/296/29605.htm

    The National Audit Office in a 2016 report also made the obvious, but crucial, point that LEPs do not yet have an established track record of delivery.

    Our future is in their hands!

    Like

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