Venue: Council Chamber Town Hall. View directions
Contact: J Bayley-Hill Principal Democratic Services Officer
Apologies and named substitutes
Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillors Tim Pearman and Gareth Prosser and it was confirmed that Councillor Luke Court was attending as Councillor Pearman’s substitute.
Declarations of interest and of Party Whip
To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and / or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests, and any Party Whip.
There were no declarations of interest nor of any party whip.
To invite members of the public who have registered in advance of the meeting to speak to the Committee.
The Chair confirmed that there were no registered public speakers on this occasion.
The Head of Planning, Regeneration and Leisure Services presented a report on the subject of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
The Committee was advised that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund formed part of the national Levelling Up scheme. Redditch had been allocated £2.5 million under the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. In order to access this funding, the Council, as the accountable body, needed to submit an investment plan to the Government detailing how the funding would be spent at the local level.
The investment plan was a high level, strategic document. At this stage, specific projects would not be referred to in the plan. Instead, the Council needed to demonstrate how the proposed use of the funding in the Borough matched key interventions that had been identified by the Government. The funding also had to be allocated in accordance with three investment priorities for the Government; Community and Place, Supporting Local Business and People and Skills. Projects had not yet been agreed for funding although some partner organisations had submitted ideas for projects that could be funded locally.
Officers were proposing that in Redditch the funding should be allocated on a ratio of 40 per cent devoted to Community and Place, 30 per cent allocated to Supporting Local Business and 30 per cent allocated to People and Skills. The Government’s interventions had been assessed by Officers who had identified those considered to be most relevant to the Borough. The Council could choose from up to 41 interventions proposed by the Government, although some of the project in the Borough would potentially be cross cutting and relevant to a number of interventions. Recently the Government had advised the Council that the proportion of focus allocated to each of the three investment priorities as well as the links to the key interventions could be changed at a later date after the investment plan had been submitted.
After the report had been presented, Members discussed the following points in detail:
· The extent to which Redditch was guaranteed to receive the £2.5 million funding that had been allocated to the Borough. Members were informed that Redditch would receive that full allocation of funding.
· The consequences arising from submission of an investment plan by a Council that was not endorsed by the Government. The Committee was advised that the Council would update the plan and continue to resubmit the document, subject to necessary changes, until the Government approved the content.
· The length of time in which the UK Shared Prosperity Fund would be available. Officers advised that funding would be available over a three-year period, starting in 2022/23.
· The division of funding between capital and revenue expenditure.
· The challenges for the Council in terms of ensuring the sustainability of projects that received funding after the end of the three-year period. Members were informed that this issue had been raised with the Government and local authorities had been advised that this would be addressed in the spending review.
· The consequences arising should the Council fail to ... view the full minutes text for item 35.
Members considered the content of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme and in doing so noted that the content had been updated to include the additional items agreed at the previous meeting, including additional meeting dates.
the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme be noted.
a) West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Council representative, Councillor Chalk; and
b) Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) – Council representative, Councillor Chalk.
The Committee considered updates in respect of recent meetings of the following external scrutiny bodies:
a) West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Council Representative, Councillor Michael Chalk
Councillor Chalk presented a written update on the focus of the latest meeting of the WMCA’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which took place on 11th July 2022. Members were informed that the meeting had been live streamed and this could be viewed on the WMCA’s website.
Members noted that during the meeting there had been discussions about the skills budget for the WMCA. Questions were raised about the potential for some of this funding to be shared with non-constituent authorities such as Redditch Borough Council. The Committee was advised that the Leader, who served on the WMCA Board, had a positive working relationship with the Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority region, who was keen to provide support to non-constituent members. However, the skills budgets for combined authorities was intended for constituent member authorities only. In two-tier authority areas such as Worcestershire, skills funding was allocated to the county Council. Redditch Borough Council could potentially access some skills funding from the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and this had occurred in the past.
Reference was made to the level of qualifications that were supported using the skills funding provided through the WMCA. Members were informed that this was intended for Level 3 qualifications, although there had been discussions about the potential to provide funding available to also support level 2 qualifications. There were recognised providers that delivered training for level 3 qualifications, although the number of providers had recently reduced following a review.
The Committee discussed the educational attainment levels in the Borough and concerns were raised about the number of people who were not in education, employment or training (NEETs). In this context, there was general agreement that more action needed to be taken to access additional funding to support measures to improve the local skills base. Members commented that work in respect of the manufacturing and innovation centre, as part of the work on town centre regeneration, would potentially help to address this situation.
b) Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) – Council Representative, Councillor Michael Chalk
Councillor Chalk confirmed that the latest meeting of the Worcestershire HOSC had taken place on 8th July 2022. During the meeting, representatives of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) had been interviewed about the integrated care system.
Members discussed the update provided and in doing so questioned whether WAHT had provided any information at recent meetings of HOSC regarding the Trust’s finances. The Committee was informed that this had not been discussed during recent meetings. However, Members were asked to note that in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government had written off NHS debts, including WAHT’s £20 million debts, although the current financial position of the Trust remained to be clarified.
Reference was made to public transport links to Worcestershire Royal Hospital and concerns were raised about the ... view the full minutes text for item 37.