Venue: Council Chamber - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
Contact: Will Wheatley
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on the 30th of May 2023.
2.1 Dev Chakraborty informed the committee that his name was not on the minute apologies list.
2.2 The minutes of the meeting held on the 20th May were approved by the Committee as a correct record and signed by the chair.
Declarations of Interest
To receive any pecuniary or personal interests by members.
3.1 There were no declarations of interest.
To receive a presentation on Economic Inactivity in Gloucestershire.
4.1 The Chair invited Katherine Martin, Data and Analysis Manager, to give a presentation on the Economic Inactivity in Gloucestershire. The main points highlighted were:
· The national picture for 16–64-year-olds who were economically inactive from March to May 2023 was 20.9% which whilst higher than the pre-covid level (20.5%) was lower than its peak in May-July 2022 at 21.7%. In Gloucestershire, it was stated there were currently 17.3% economically inactive people aged 16-64 but pre-covid, this was 15.2%. Whilst this number was lower than the county’s peak, there were still 8300 more people aged 16-64 who were economically inactive.
· There was a variety of reasons for the increase in the economically inactive but in Gloucestershire, the main reasons given were long-term sick or disabled, looking after home or family, retired or student.
· Gloucester currently had the greatest number of economically inactive residents, Tewkesbury had the least number of economically inactive and the Forest of Dean had the highest rate of economic inactivity. However, it was noted that roughly every district followed the overarching county trend.
4.2 It was noted by a member that there was an error with final page of the presentation. It was confirmed by the officer that it should have read ‘Tewkesbury has the lowest number of economically inactive.’
ACTION – Katherine Martin
4.3 The Chair also invited Pete Carr, Head of Employment and Skills, and Sam Henson, Employment and Skills Hub Outreach Project Manager, to give a presentation on the Employment and Skills Hub Outreach (ESHO). A project which aimed to get the economically inactive back into employment, training or education. The following points were highlighted:
· The ESHO was created to bridge the gap between the European funding (GEM Project) ending and the funding from the Districts’ UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) which would begin in March 2024 by providing £600k of Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) funding to engage and support the economically inactive residents in Gloucestershire and to help them get back into employment, education or training.
· The ESHO project had ten partnerships with voluntary and community sector enterprises in Gloucestershire. Seven of these were district specific partnerships and three were countywide.
· EHSO employed Employment Support Coordinators (ESCs) who were employed by the delivery partner organisations to provide individual, tailor-made support to each participant.
· Since the EHSO project began, they had had 264 referrals and 242 participants to date (1st September 2023). Up to the 1st September 2023: they had helped sixty participants into employment, thirty-one into education or training and forty-seven into volunteering.
· The final slide of the presentation listed what each district council needed to do to use their ‘People and Skills’ UKSPF funding for the continuation of the EHSO project.
4.4 Responding to a member’s question, the officers confirmed that the ESC’s played an integral role in providing additional support to their clients including helping them to create online General Practice (GP) appointments and linking them with social prescribers. However, it was noted that they were ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
a) To receive an update on the Business Rate Pool, as well as a summary of the last few years.
b) To discuss the attached Strategic Approach for a SEDF funding pipeline.
c) To receive a verbal update on the City Region Board.
5.1 The Chair invited Andrew Cummings, Strategic Director of Resources for Stroud District Council, and Gareth Edmundson, Chief Executive of Cheltenham Borough Council, to give an update on the Business Rate Pool and to discuss the Strategic Approach for a Strategic Economic Development Fund (SEDF) funding pipeline.
5.2 Gloucestershire operated a business rates pool under the 50% rates retention system. This pooling generates a saving in the levy returned to Central Government which is then distributed amongst Gloucestershire authorities. If the Business Rate Pool did not exist, the money would be placed back into Central Government. It was noted that the latest forecast of rate income for the current year showed an estimated pool gain of £4.369, a small reduction from the initial forecast of £4.549 million. The Section 151 Officers Group had briefly discussed the options around Pooling and the clear consensus view was that until such times as there was wider reform of local government funding, the pool should be continued.
5.3 The Joint Committee had previously considered and approved the eligibility criteria and project approval process for the assessment of any future funding bids to and awarded from the Strategic Economic Development Fund in November 2018. It was decided by the Senior Officer Group that there should be a change from the current ‘first come, first served, SEDF funding to a system which allowed for all bids to be considered before choosing the one to allocate funding to. This was because there was concern that not all projects maximised the economic benefit and growth to the county which is specifically what the funding should be used for. For the full details of the SEDF recommendations made by the Senior Officer Group to be reformed from the establishment of the new City Region Board, please view the agenda report pack.
5.4 A member stated that every bid should include how the project would add to the county’s climate change strategy, but the other members disagreed with this idea because whilst they all believed that no new bids should have a negative effect on climate change, not every bid needed to directly decrease the effects of climate change. Instead, a member suggested that the reports could include the Climate Assessment Tool which was currently used by Cheltenham Borough Council. The committee were informed that the Climate Assessment Tool focused on making sure that officers thought about their impact on climate change and if they needed to mitigate the impact. It was decided that there should be some recognition of the need for climate change consideration. It was asked by members that the Senior Officer Group would find a consensus on how that was best worded in the funding bid outline document.
ACTION – Gareth Edmundson
5.5 The officers were also invited to give an update on the progress of the new City Region Board. It was confirmed that legal representatives from each council within the county had been working together to draft the Inter-Authority Agreement for the City ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To note the GCC Economic Dashboard.
2.1 This report was taken as read and there were no questions.
To note the GFirst LEP & Gloucestershire Growth Hub Update.
7.1 Dev Chakraborty, Deputy Chief Executive of GFirst LEP gave a summary of the report. The following points were highlighted:
7.2 A member asked for the officer to change his report wording due to a mistake. On page 66, it read ‘Given the budget is already under severe pressure it is felt this option is not viable. Currently there is a c£260k shortfall on budget which potentially sits with Gloucester City Council unless additional funds can be secured.’ It was confirmed by a member that the shortfall on the budget was with Great Western Rail rather than Gloucester City Council.
ACTION – Dev Chakraborty
8.1 It was noted that because this was the final meeting of Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee, there was no work plan or future meetings. The members and officers thanked Tony Dale for chairing the committee for the last two and a half years.