Hiba Mahamadi 16 March 2018

Government oversight of LEPs not good enough, MPs say

Government oversight of LEPs not good enough, MPs say image

The Public Accounts Committee has stressed its lack of faith in the Government’s overview of local enterprise partnerships in a critical report published today.

The report, on the Greater Cambridgeshire Greater Peterborough local enterprise partnership (GCGP LEP), concluded the Government’s claims last year that the LEP had no problems were ‘without substance’.

The report said: ‘The department’s oversight system failed to identify GCGP LEP as one which should have raised concerns.

‘The department has repeatedly given assurances to us that it has resolved issues in LEPs, but the case of GCGP LEP suggests that these assurances are without substance.

‘Moreover, the department did not flag GCGP as a LEP about which it had particular concerns, and its system of ‘annual conversations’ with LEPs is not convincingly robust.’

The committee criticised the LEP for failing to comply with the standards of accountability and transparency expected from it.  

The report highlighted the committee’s concerns that the same problems could be ongoing at other LEPs given that the Government’s method for holding LEPs to account is not set in stone.

The committee urged the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to be more clear about the purpose of LEPs, given the complexity of the current local government structure within which they exist.

The report added: ‘The department’s policy review needs to make the role of LEPs absolutely clear, assess whether LEP boundaries are in the right place, evaluate their role in promoting economic growth and set out their place alongside new mayors and combined.’

The committee’s chair, Meg Hillier, said the GCGP LEP is proof of the committee’s ‘persistent concerns’ about the governance of LEPs and their accountability to the public.

She added: ‘The GCGP LEP failed to comply with the standards expected in public life. Yet there are also clear failings in oversight by central government.’

The committee also criticised the ministry’s ‘nuclear’ decision last year to withhold £37m from the GCGP LEP, adding it should have intervened in a less damaging way.

Last year, the GCGP and other LEPs were the subject of a National Audit Office (NAO) report which revealed widespread concerns.

In December, the GCGP LEP decided to give itself a ‘fresh start’ in 2018 by replacing the LEP with a new business board in April this year. The board will be directly linked to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Our school places challenge image

Our school places challenge

A new report has warned the UK needs more than 600 new schools by 2022 to meet demand. Mark Robinson explores how local authorities can address the school place shortfall.
Data sharing arrangements image

Data sharing arrangements

Lowri Phillips explains what public bodies should do to meet their legal obligations and minimise the risks.
Highways jobs

Service Manager – Network Management

Somerset County Council
£46,122 per annum
A number of exciting permanent opportunities have arisen to drive forward further improvements to our traffic related services. Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Principal Traffic Control Engineer

Somerset County Council
£33,799 to £37,849 per annum
A number of exciting permanent opportunities have arisen to drive forward further improvements to our traffic related services. Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Assistant Engineer

Bedford Borough Council
£31,371 - £32,878 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Senior Clerk of Works

Bedford Borough Council
£27,905 - £30,507 + market rate supplement £2,630 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Senior Technician

Bedford Borough Council
£27,905 - £30,507 per annum
Bedford is growing at a fast pace and we are investing heavily in our highways infrastructure. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

The June issue of Local Government News contains the full details of all the winning schemes in the 2019 Street Design Awards. From Children's Play to Pedestrian Environment, find out who has been recognised for their innovation and use of best practice.

This issue also explores how local government pension funds can hedge currency risk, how councils can best address the shortfall in school places, and an update on the number of authorities banning the use of Roundup over safety fears.

Register for your free magazine