Worcestershire LEP has clear Governance arrangements in place to deliver EU and Growth Deal programmes so that the funding the county has received works to deliver the 10-year Strategic Economic Plan.
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WLEP Structure and Board Minutes
Worcestershire LEP Assurance Statement
Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership continues to pride itself on being an open and transparent organisation.
Our LEP Board is led by a strong private sector Chair supported by a balance of public, private and education sector partners, committed to ensuring that businesses representation is reflective of the local business community.
We recruit Non-Exec Directors to the LEP by informing our extensive network and continuing to turnover our membership as directors’ and representatives’ terms of office come to an end. This continues to prove positive, as it brings new ideas and energy to the LEP, avoids stagnancy of ideas, and ensures that we are not a ‘club’ for a select few.
2021 has seen several welcome new additions to both the main WLEP Board and the sub-boards that support the work of the LEP.
We are committed to achieving the targets set out by central government, which include ensuring equal representation of men and women on the WLEP Board by the end of 2022/23.
We recognise that a truly diverse and inclusive LEP will include and make good use of differences in the skills, geographical and industry experience, background, race, gender, and other qualities that exist in the Worcestershire economy.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the National LEP Review, WLEP and partners are positively planning into 2022/23, to maintain momentum of delivery against our local Plan for Growth (2020-2040) economic strategy. As the LEP’s role continues to evolve, so too will our organisational governance structure to suit the thematic priorities of the organisation.
The Finance, Audit and Risk (FAR) Committee, a formal standing sub-committee of the WLEP Board, continues to be responsible for the monitoring, audit and risk management functions of the LEP and ensuring compliance with any regulatory frameworks relating to funding or partnership working, including the Memorandum of Understanding with the Accountable Body.
Our recent alignment with the Worcestershire Growth Hub this year has provided timely opportunities to deliver targeted business support in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit transition, supporting local economic recovery and growth.
A key facet of WLEP’s achievements is the effective and trusted relationships developed with partners over the last 10 years. WLEP encourages collaboration and constructive challenge across the partnership to maintain and deliver the high ambitions we collectively hold for the county. We remain active members of the Midlands Engine and National LEP Network.
We continue to be proactive in our approach to Governance and Transparency. In September 2021 we attended the Accountable Body’s Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board to provide our annual report on progress, leading to constructive dialogue with cross-party elected members from all seven Local Authorities, about key issues in the county and ensuring we are held accountable to the local area we serve.
WLEP remain steadfastly committed to continuous improvement and fully recognise that our approach needs to be constantly challenged, tested, and revised to ensure that we continue to exceed the expectations placed on us in our use of public sector resources.
Joint Statement from Chair, Mark Stansfeld and CEO, Gary Woodman on 6 January 2022
Project and Programme Delivery
The Worcestershire LEP delivers a variety of projects and programmes for the county. As part of our Governance we update a rolling tracker document which allows you to see the progress, status and timeline for our delivery projects.
You can view this tracker on the link here.
Alternatively you can visit our Current Projects page where you can read more about our key programme areas and the deliveries we have made.
The Worcestershire LEP Assurance Framework details the stages of project development in a framework that outlines how WLEP identifies, develops and implements projects within the funding programmes. The project lifecycle being:
- Project Identification and Programme Entry
- Project Application, Appraisal and Approval
- Project Delivery
The WLEP recognises the importance of having robust arrangements in place to insure value for money and effective delivery. The value for money of a project is dealt with within this three stage process.
1.Project Identification and Programme Entry
Open calls and discussions with key delivery partners are held to encourage the submission of a Strategic Outline Case (SOC). Each project would be measured against the Plan for Growth and Worcestershire 2040 vision. The purpose of the SOC being to confirm the strategic context of the proposed intervention and to make a robust case for change, providing stakeholders and customers with an early indication of the ‘preferred way forward’, although not the preferred option at that stage.
The SOCs set out at a high level the background and rationale for the intervention, along with proposed outputs and outcomes associated. It will also outline the funding requirement and potential sources of matched finance, identify key risks associated with the intervention and value for money (VfM) considerations. The SOC should provide clarity as to who is the scheme owner and identify any additional project/delivery partners associated.
It also drew attention to state aid regulation, ensuring any potential issues are flagged up at an early stage.
The assessment of value for money at this point is calculated through a benefits cost ratio analysis. This measures employment business creation, business assit and public/private sector match. The calculation of the BCR and leverage leads to a score which means the CEO or Director of Operations will make a decision if the project proceeds to a full business case.
2.Project Application, Appraisal and Approval
Worcestershire Local Transport Body
The Worcestershire LEP has delegated to the Worcestershire Local Transport Body control of the application, appraisal and approval process for major infrastructure projects.
The process adheres to a separate Assurance Framework (http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/downloads/file/1731/worcestershire_ltb_assurance_framework) and relates to the following Growth Deal projects, all of which have a clear fit with the Strategic Economic plan(SEP).
Non Transportation Projects
For all other activity including the Growth Deal, Growing Places Fund and Project Development Fund, an approach is adopted that will address, in a proportionate way, the Green Book guidance produced by HM with details available here.
A standard Full Application form has been developed for Growth Deal projects. If the scheme seeking funding approval is a Skills Capital project, then the WLEP Skills Assurance Framework provides further information on the process required. This is available on WLEP website here.
A scheme promoter will only be invited to complete the application form once the scheme has been accepted for Programme Entry by capturing value for money measures and projected project outcomes and outputs.
On receipt of the application from scheme promoters, WLEP Executive Team will commission or undertake an appraisal which assesses the project against the 5 case model identified within the Green Book namely:
- Strategic Case
- Economic Case
- Financial Case
- Commercial Case
- Project Management Case
A standard Appraisal Form has been developed to inform the process of considering project value for money.
WLEP Board will only grant approval to a scheme once all legal powers and third-party funding contributions are identified, and the final costs have been formally agreed (i.e. contracted) with a delivery partner, subject to the production and evaluation of a FBC.
Furthermore, an application for funding approval will only be considered if the application is supported in writing by the Section 151 Officer or nominated alternative of the promoting authority, thereby guaranteeing the local contribution to the scheme and signifying acceptance of risk for all cost increases.
All decision-making will be taken in accordance with the WLEP Scheme of Delegation detailed within the Assurance Framework and will be supported by the WLEP Executive Team, who will facilitate the evaluation of the full business case and will ensure that a covering report is drafted with a recommendation, to support the decision-making process undertaken by the LEP board or delegated to a relevant sub-committee.
The Chief Executive or their nominated alternative will have overall responsibility for ensuring value for money for all projects and programmes and the scrutiny of any recommendations relating to each business case. These will be reported to the LEP board when required, and at an appropriate frequency.
Due Diligence and Financial Checks
WLEP (and the Accountable Body, Worcestershire Council Council) will undertake due diligence and/or financial checks from potential grant recipients prior to awarding grant funding, in order to try and reduce the level of risk associated with the WLEP investment. This will be reviewed by the FAR Committee on behalf of WLEP and any risks and issues reported to the WLEP Board.
WLEP is committed to working with its partners to integrate social and economic inclusion across the SEP objectives and delivery. The fundamental purpose being to ensure economic success is accessed and shared by all interests in Worcestershire.
Examples of WLEP’s social economic inclusion commitments include:
- Helping to reduce the number of people at risk of exclusion and poverty;
- Supporting inactive and unemployed people with multiple disadvantage;
- Supporting low-skilled workers on a constructive journey to improve skills and gain better paid employment and reduce income deprivation.
Once a project has been granted funding approval by WLEP Board, the scheme promoter will be notified of the decision in writing and invited to enter into a formal tripartite funding agreement between WLEP (awarding body), WCC (accountable body) and the scheme promoter (grant recipient).
The Funding Agreement will set out the details of the funding allocation (quantum and profile) along with the associated terms and conditions i.e. delivery of outputs and compliance with progress reporting to WLEP in line with the value for money assessment and for business case detailed within the contract.
The Funding Agreement will need to be signed by the Chief Executive of WLEP, the Section 151 Officer of the Accountable Body (or his/her nominee with delegated responsibility), and the Section 151 Officer of the scheme promoter (or, in the case of non-local authority promoters, by the Chief Financial Officer). Where the Accountable Body is also the scheme promoter then such signatures will be made to avoid any conflict of interest.
Where a project is to be delivered by the same authority which is acting as the Accountable Body, then a grant offer letter will be issued from WLEP to the Accountable Body detailing the funding conditions, outputs/outcomes, delivery milestones and reporting requirements on a project by project basis to ensure a clear audit trail for the LGF allocation and associated outputs and delivery arrangements per project. This will ensure any overspend/underspend is monitored and managed on a project-by-project basis.
Cost Control, Funding Awards and Release of Funding
Any funding award from WLEP will be subject to a cap and will require the scheme promoter to be responsible for all cost increases post ‘approval’.
Consequently, a fully quantified risk register must inform the final project cost, and scheme promoters are encouraged to develop a register that is proportionate to the overall scheme size and risk profile.
Funding for actual expenditure will be released by WLEP quarterly in line with an agreed project funding profile.
WLEP will require financial and delivery information to be provided as part of regular progress reports from each lead delivery organisation. Progress reports will be measured against a set of agreed milestones, which will be set out in the funding approval application and WLEP’s funding agreement.
WLEP will use project monitoring arrangements to detect incorrect use of funds, misuse of funds or incorrect payments made by scheme promoters / lead delivery organisations.
Programme and Risk Management
Following approval, the LEP Executive and Accountable Body will manage the programme of projects within the annual allocation.
Each scheme included in the programme will be required to provide an expenditure profile, a project plan and a quality plan (including a risk register and management plan), as well as clearly identifying the project lead and lead delivery agency/agencies. This information will be updated at key stages throughout the project lifecycle and reported to the LEP programme and delivery board.
The LEP Board via the Finance Audit and Risk Committee will also require financial and delivery information to be provided as part of the regular monitoring of the programme. In addition, monitoring reports will be required from each project in accordance with the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. These reports will evidence value for money performance in a RAG rated system.
The Local Enterprise Partnership will identify a named individual with overall responsibility for ensuring value for money for all projects and programmes and a named individual (not necessarily the same person) responsible for scrutiny of and recommendations relating to each business case. These responsible individuals should ideally be independent of the promoting organisation or where this is impractical, should sit outside the management unit responsible for developing and promoting the business case.
State Aid Compliance
WLEP recognises the importance of the State Aid rules and regulations in protecting the free market by ensuring that state resources do not distort competition or give an unfair advantage. WLEP will therefore implement the necessary checks and balances, in partnership with the Accountable Body to ensure all WLEP investments are state aid compliant.
Therefore, WLEP/Accountable Body may vary or withhold any funding and/or require repayment of any funding already paid if:
- Repayment or recovery is required under State Aid Law; and/or
- WLEP/Accountable Body is otherwise required to repay or recover such funding in whole or in part to or by the European Commission.
Any funding required to be repaid shall bear interest as required under State Aid Law.
WLEP will require scheme promoters to seek their own legal advice in order to provide satisfactory evidence of State Aid compliance before any funding is released.
Issues and Escalation
Whilst the LEP Board and the LEP Executive will be responsible for delivery of the funded programme, the ultimate responsibility for the successful delivery of each project within that programme lies with the project’s lead.
The LEP Executive, guided where appropriate by the LEP Board, will offer support and, if necessary, issue sanctions to the scheme promoter if project spend and/or achievement of delivery milestones are not keeping pace with agreed funding and delivery profiles.
These sanctions can vary from a note of concern being issued to the Project Lead and copied to the Accountable Body, through to formal warnings, suspension of funding and ultimately withdrawal of funding, if deemed appropriate by the WLEP Board, Accountable Body and Central Government.
The LEP Executive Team will aim to support any projects that are struggling before any decisions are taken to suspend or withdraw funding.
The decision to withdraw and/or claw-back funding will only be taken where a full analysis of the impact of doing so has been undertaken. It is envisaged that withdrawal of funding will only apply where a project has significantly delayed its start date and will not spend its in-year allocation of funding.
Monitoring and Evaluation
All LEP-funded projects will be subject to WLEP’s Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, which is available at https://www.wlep.co.uk/governance/
Monitoring is required to ensure that projects and programmes are delivering according to the appropriate outputs, inputs and timescale. The monitoring is heavily based around three types of metric:
- Core / required metrics – these are derived entirely from guidance from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). They cover key topics surrounding the project’s delivery and will inform monitoring and evaluations within central government.
- Supplementary metrics – these will be collected on specific projects where identified to be beneficial due to information required from monitoring, or for future benefit towards an evaluation. The collection of any supplementary metrics is to be agreed by the WLEP Executive Team and the respective project board.
- Process metrics – in essence, a form of supplementary metric, but refers to anything required in further detail by the WLEP Executive Team from a project lead in order to gain further insight into project delivery. In some cases additional process metrics may be required for a specific process evaluation subsequent to project completion. For example, where multiple LEPs have an interest in a single project, and the process of working collaboratively should be reviewed and learned from where necessary.
Evaluations are also required to ensure that projects and processes are efficient, effective and achieve the desired outcomes and impacts. Where possible WLEP aims to ensure that evaluations allow for the constructive development of previously established processes and to promote best practice for future work.
There are four types of evaluation that WLEP may apply to LEP-funded projects:
- Process evaluation – an assessment of what aspects of the project contributed towards delivery of project outputs
- Theory-based evaluation – asks how the intervention succeeded by testing the effectiveness of mechanisms that were expected to be the key drivers of impact
- Outcomes evaluation – asks whether outcomes moved in the desired direction and often includes contextual information to test non-project influences
- Impact evaluation – asks whether the intervention had any impact on observed outcomes, providing a key component of assessment of both cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit.
If a Lead Delivery Organisation fails to comply with any of the conditions expressed within the Funding Agreement, the WLEP (through the Accountable Body, Worcestershire County Council) may:
- Reduce, suspend or withhold grant
- By notification in writing to the Lead Delivery Organisation, require the repayment of the whole or any part of the grant
In circumstances where the decision is taken by WLEP to withdraw funding from a project, the funding already released to that project will be subject to claw-back with immediate effect.
WLEP Local Assurance Framework
The Worcestershire LEP Local Assurance framework can be accessed below and is in place to ensure appropriate decision making processes are followed.
A number of other frameworks are also in place. These can be viewed below:
If you have any questions regarding the Local Assurance Framework please contact the team at email@example.com
Declarations of Interest
This policy exists to ensure that any conflicts of interest which may arise in the Worcestershire LEP’s decision-making processes are managed and recorded properly.
This protects the integrity of our decision-making processes, enables stakeholders to have confidence in our decision-making, and protects the reputation of the LEP and members of its boards.
An “interest” may include employment, other appointments (including trusteeships, directorships, elected office), memberships (whether corporate or personal), investments, shareholdings, land and property, intellectual property, customer/client relationships, use of the LEP’s services or anything else which could (or could be perceived to) impact on the member’s ability to act independently. This list is not exhaustive, and the presumption should be in favour of including anything which could conceivably be considered to be an interest, even if it is felt unlikely to arise.
The policy is in two parts:
- Maintaining a record of all interests
- Managing potential conflicts of interest
The Worcestershire LEP Board’s and Senior Staff Members’ Declaration of Interests can be viewed here:
The Declarations of Interest for each relevant group will be updated each year.
Gifts, Hospitality and Expenses Register
As part of the declarations of interest for the Worcestershire LEP board, all Board Members have to declare any gifts/hospitality received which are in excess of £50 in value and any expenses they have paid. To supplement this an in-year expenses and hospitality register is maintained to cover all expenses, gifts or hospitality received irrespective of value. This register also covers staff expenses each year.
The latest version of this register can be accessed on the link here.
This register is updated on a yearly basis with the next update due in August 2022.
Annual Financial Statements
The Worcestershire LEP’s 2020/21 Financial Statement is available in the image below and within our latest Annual Report.
The latest Annual Statutory Financial Statements for our accountable body, Worcestershire County Council can be accessed on the link here.
We also have available the Statutory Accounts Update which was presented to the Audit and Governance Committee, this can be viewed on the link here.
Complaints & Whistleblowing
WLEP is committed to dealing with any complaints fairly, impartially, and confidentially, and has set out a clear 3 stage policy for handling complaints.
The WLEP Complaint Policy is available here.
The WLEP Whistleblowing policy is available here.
Section 151 Officer
The current Section 151 Officer at Worcestershire County Council is Michael Hudson (Chief Financial Officer) and his nominee with delegated responsibility for this area is Stephanie Simcox (Head of Finance).