To receive a report on the delivery of the Growth Programme in the County, plus progress with the formation of an Employment and Skills Board.
Pete Carr, Deputy Chief Executive of GFirst LEP, provided the Committee with an update on the delivery of the Growth Programme in the county.
An overview of the status of projects going through the approval and funding process was provided, and it was highlighted that the A40 Benhall bus lane project was not being progressed. Members were also informed that, following a change in process, the GFirst LEP Investment Panel had started to review projects. The Metz Way project and A40 Over Roundabout Scheme had so far been reviewed by the Panel.
One member queried whether the funding for the A40 Benhall bus lane scheme would be reallocated. Pete Carr confirmed that the funding would remain available locally, however the outcome of the Growth Deal 3 submission would need to be known before it was decided where the funding would be best allocated. It was also highlighted that Gloucestershire County Council would continue to work with Stagecoach on other improvements to the A40.
Members were made aware of the current project reporting figures. The out turn from the current Growth Deal programme was £18.499m, the actual cumulative total spend (including direct leverage/ match) was £21.8m, and the total leverage (direct and follow-on) declared by the projects was £64m.
Members were informed that the ‘Annual Conversation’ with the Cities and Local Growth team from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was taking place in December. A representative from Gloucestershire County Council would be in attendance in addition to the GFirst LEP Chair and GFirst LEP programme management staff.
Pete Carr informed members that BEIS had confirmed that all LEPs and Accountable Bodies were required to carry out reviews and updates of their assurance frameworks by February 2017, and that they needed to be signed off by the Section 151 Officer. The Programme Management Group had already started to review the GFirst LEP’s Assurance Framework and would be discussed at the ‘Annual Conversation’ meeting.
It was explained to members that GFirst LEP was still in conversation with the Government regarding the amount of funding that would be received for Growth Deal 3. Members noted that the Government had applied three criteria to help in their decisions over funding allocations. It was also noted that there had been no clarification yet as to whether there would be any further Growth Deal rounds.
One member queried why GFirst LEP did not score as strongly as some other areas under the private sector match funding criteria that the Government had applied. In response, it was explained that the criteria for private sector match funding had changed during the bidding process so that match funding now needed to be confirmed at the start of the project. Pete Carr explained that this could be addressed in future through early conversations with project promoters and by looking at how other areas had achieved this. It was also noted that under the governance criteria, areas with metro mayors, combined authorities, and devolution deals already in place scored higher than GFirst LEP, and it was acknowledged that this Growth Deal round had been a more political process.
It was queried how GFirst LEP would involve the Committee in its process for the allocation of Growth Deal 3 funds to projects. Pete Carr explained that the Government would determine the projects that would receive funding and the amount of funding each project would receive. The Committee would be informed of the allocations once the LEP Board had ensured it was comfortable to accept them. It was recognised that it was important for Committee members to be informed of the proposals so that they could be aware of the impact they would have on the county.
One member asked for an update on the establishment of the Employment and Skills Board. Pete Carr explained that the LEP Board had considered the draft proposals for the Employment and Skills Board, which had made some recommendations, and that it was expected to be established in March 2017. Once it had been established, the Employment and Skills Board would work on developing a draft skills strategy. It was confirmed that the Employment and Skills Board would report to the LEP Board and to the GEGJC, and that once they had been drawn up, the papers for the Board would be made available to the Committee.
The Committee noted the report.