William Eichler 05 July 2019

LEPs ‘lack transparency’ despite receiving £12bn of Government funding

LEPs ‘lack transparency’ despite receiving £12bn of Government funding image

The Government has ‘no real understanding’ of the impact which the Local Growth Fund has had on local economic growth despite investing £12bn of taxpayers’ money, MPs say.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) claims that every £1 of local growth funding paid to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) could generate £4.81 in benefits.

However, a new report from the Public Accounts Committee has criticised the MHCLG for a lack of transparency and accountability, and argued that the £4.81 claim is an ‘unsubstantiated estimate’.

The 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England were set up to stimulate local economies and have been allocated £9.1bn through Growth Deals and £3bn via other means.

The PAC report found that there has been improvements to LEP governance and transparency, but says there is ‘still a long way to go’.

The MHCLG receives quarterly performance data from LEPs, but the committee discovered that it did not use this to measure the impact of local growth funding nationally.

It has also not measured what value for money LEPs have delivered so far, nor could it provide the committee with examples of private sector investment generated through LEPs’ activities.

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

The PAC report also found that Local Enterprise Partnerships have underspent their Local Growth Fund allocations by a total of over £1.1bn in the three years to the end of 2017-18.

LEPs are also not ‘sufficiently representative’ in terms of gender diversity or where local businesses are concerned.

Responding to the report, an MHCLG spokesperson said: ‘Local Enterprise Partnerships play a vital role in supporting the Government’s ambition to rebalance the economy so it works for everyone.

‘The Public Accounts Committee’s report recognises that improvements have been made by the Department to ensure robust governance and financial transparency arrangements are in place.

‘We continue to work with LEPs across England to further improve these standards and ensure value for money in local growth spending.’

A spokesperson for the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, which with £694.9m is the LEP with the largest Growth Deal nationally, said they supported the ‘overall message’ of the PAC report.

Addressing the question of accountability, the spokesperson said: ‘All meetings of the LEP and its related panels and sub-committees are held in public.

‘Investment decisions are made according to a rigorous assurance framework, which is fully compliant with Government’s assurance guidelines and requires projects to pass a series of gateway checks and due diligence before funding is released.

‘All of our investment decisions are ratified by elected politicians at public meetings of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and are subject to scrutiny by the Combined Authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee as well as reporting regularly to our partner councils’ scrutiny meetings.

‘These governance measures have been consistently rated as good by the Government.’

Open letter to Boris Johnson image

Open letter to Boris Johnson

The MJ's editor Heather Jameson asks the new PM a simple question: do you want to fund local government or do you want to scale back services to the basics?
Highways jobs

Air Quality Monitoring Project Manager

Birmingham City Council
£34,788 - £42,683
Seeking a skilled and dedicated individual with a background in environmental protection and air quality to... Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: Birmingham City Council

Recycling Operative

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£21,188 - £25,675 depending on skills
Are you looking for an opportunity where your health and well-being will be promoted? London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Home Improvement Agency Officer

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£29,636 - £33,799 per annum
Have you got experience working with Aids and Adaptations? If so we have an exciting opportunity. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Health & Safety Lead Officer

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£34,788 - £39,782 per annum
This is an exciting opportunity to join Sandwell’s corporate Health and Safety Unit. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Co-opted Governor - Joseph Turner Primary School

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
No Salary
If you care about the education children receive, you can make an important contribution to your local community by becoming a school governor. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

This issue of Local Government News explores how councils can tackle modern slavery and trafficking in their supply chains, finds out more about Cambridge's first cohousing scheme and the launch of a new project to build a shared service pattern library for local government.

This issue also contains a special focus on children's services and how councils are protecting children following local safeguarding children boards being abolished.

Register for your free magazine