Local Enterprise Partnerships: Unaccountable money pits wiith “secretive cultures, misuse of funds and cronyism”

“Ministers ‘fail to measure impact’ of regional funds and local enterprise partnerships:

The government has made “no effort” to measure the impact made by organisations given £12 billion of public money to encourage regional growth, MPs have said.

England’s 38 local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) are run by boards “not representative of their local areas” that lack “scrutiny and accountability” for spending decisions, the public accounts committee said.

LEPs are voluntary partnerships between business leaders, academics and the public sector designed to give more power to regional decision makers to drive growth in their areas. They are supposed to tackle skills shortages, provide small business support and improve infrastructure and transport policy.

However, the spending watchdog said that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, which is supposed to oversee the partnerships, had not properly tracked the use of the funds the organisations were given. This is because the department does not evaluate the performance of the Local Growth Fund, the funding pot that the partnerships rely on.

A report published today concludes that the government “has made no effort to evaluate the value for money of nearly £12 billion in public funding, nor does it have robust plans to do so”. It receives quarterly performance data from LEPs, but value has not been measured.

LEPs are also blighted by overlapping geographical boundaries, which “dilutes accountability and responsibility”, while a lack of capacity within the organisations has caused them to underspend their funding allocations by more than £1 billion over the past three years. This called into question their ability to deliver complex projects, the committee said.

Concerns were also raised at a lack of expected private sector funding that was supposed to boost the impact of the partnerships.

Concerns were previously raised that a lack of oversight had given rise at some partnerships to secretive cultures, misuse of funds and cronyism.

The government asked the local partnerships to improve local scrutiny of investment decisions and the public accounts committee said that there had been improvements. However, it said there was “still a long way to go for all LEPs to reach the rigorous standards we expect”.

The government told the committee that enterprise partnerships “are not resourced sufficiently to respond to high levels of scrutiny and, as such, the department needs to prioritise what it asks LEPs to commit to”.

Meg Hillier, committee chairwoman, said: “LEPs are supposed to be an engine room of local economic growth but have been dogged by a lack of accountability and there is little evidence that they have levered in the promised private sector funds.”

A ministry spokesman said: “We continue to work with LEPs across England to further improve standards and ensure value for money.”

Source: The Times, pay wall

The Times: Theresa May exit interview

Just one question: who appointed her? Shouldn’t they take the blame for poor selection techniques? After all, they had known her for many years in another senior role. Perhaps they should be reviewing their selection process …..

“Great, well thank you for coming in for your exit interview, Mrs May. I know you’ve got a few weeks left to work out your notice but I’m sure you’re winding down now and not planning to do anything major.

Oh, you are? You’ve been meeting the president of Russia? Lovely, well, nice to catch up with old friends before moving on . . . And giving speeches on diabetes and housing and tourism and disability in the last week alone? Gosh. Could you have done some of that in the last three years while you were actually still in post?

You do seem to have quite a lot still in your Google Calendar for the next three weeks, too. And accounts have noticed that you’re trying to spend, um, £27 billion, which is a nice idea but should probably be one for your replacement, don’t you think? I’m sure you can appreciate what it’s like to have a predecessor who leaves a great mess behind to sort out.

Thank you for bringing back all of your IT equipment, although I notice that your laptop is a bit broken. The escape button seems to have been pressed rather a lot.

Let’s start with some standard questions from HR. Why are you leaving your job? Oh come on now, don’t cry. It’s a bit late for tears, isn’t it? Let’s try to be a bit more positive. Um . . . who did you get on well with? Your husband, good. Anyone actually in the office? Right, I’m glad he was friendly but he is technically a cat, isn’t he?

I was just looking back at your original application and you said at the time: “I’m Theresa May and I think I’m the best person to be prime minister.” With hindsight, do you think “only” would have been more accurate than “best”?

What did you hope to do with the job? Well, Nick and Fiona aren’t here so you must have some idea? No? None at all. OK we’ll leave that bit blank.

What did you least like about the job? Oh hang on, just slow down. Right, yes, yes, yes, OK, how are we spelling Francois? Shall we just say “every Tory MP” rather than listing them individually?

Could you perhaps tell me about a complex task you completed successfully? Well there must have been something. No, I’m not sure reorganising your cookbooks counts.

Maybe a target you had? OK, bringing down the number of people in Britain, that’s a good one. Although looking at the records the only significant flow of people were those leaving the government. OK, what about the biggest project you worked on? You say you thought you’d solved it but it didn’t work, so what did you do then? You tried it again and it didn’t work? Right and what then? You tried the same thing again, and that didn’t work? Oh dear. And then you were going to try it again before deciding, totally independently, that you were going to resign instead.

Do you have any work to go to? After-dinner speaking? Right. Do you have a backup plan? What about Strictly? They always need someone to get knocked out early with Anton.

And finally, any advice for your replacement? It’s not as easy as you made it look . . . Careful who your chancellor is, they’ll be your next-door neighbour . . . and salt is good for red wine stains. Right, thanks. Great. Good luck.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)