Government told to ‘get its act together’ over LEPs

19 Mar 18

A group of MPs has told the government to “get its act together” regarding the governance of public-private partnerships set up to boost local economies.

A Public Accounts Committee report on the Greater Cambridgeshire Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership, released on Friday, found that the LEP had failed to meet standards of accountability and transparency.

In particular, the report found that the GCGP LEP failed to publish board papers and reproduce minutes in a timely or accessible manner.

The PAC also found the former chair of the GCGP LEP- Mark Reeve- did not take responsibility for the LEPs failings and did not appreciate the importance of good governance of LEPs.

Consequently, the PAC suggested that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, should implement the recommendations of the Mary Ney review, which sets out guidelines to improve governance and transparency of partnerships, for all LEPs.

It also called for all LEP board members to be familiar with the Nolan Principles, which were published by the government in 1995 and set out the basis of ethical standards expected of public office holders.

PAC chair, Meg Hillier said: “Local enterprise partnerships are not an abstract concept on a Whitehall flipchart.

“They are making real decisions about real money that affect real people.

“This troubling case only serves to underline our persistent concerns about the governance of LEPs, their transparency and their accountability to the taxpayer.”

The report also revealed that the MHCLG’s oversight system failed to indentify GCGP LEP as one which should have raised concerns, after Cambridgeshire County Council’s section 151 officer signed off on GCGP LEP’s assurance framework without checking all of its supporting documentation.

As such, the PAC has asked the MHCLG to write to them setting out the results of its compliance checks and annual conversations and for them to publish these results.

Hillier added: “Taxpayers need to be assured their money is being spent wisely and with adequate protections in place to prevent its misuse.

“Central government must move swiftly to ensure the recommendations of the Ney review are fully implemented and we expect to see evidence that this has happened.”

The MHCLG has been approached for comment.

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