The LEP is responsible for determining the key investment priorities to which public funds are directed in order to implement its Strategic Economic Plan (SEP).
Governance Assurance Statement
As a private company (limited by guarantee) we operate in accordance with the Companies Act 2006 and as set out in our Articles of Association; this means that we get the best from our directors as they are familiar and comfortable with the behaviour demanded by the Act. This helps to mitigate any lack of clarity arising from the somewhat unusual construct that is a ‘LEP’. A detailed Conflicts of Interest policy at Article 13.
Our Articles of Association (constitution) determine our membership such that it represents the local environment in which we operate. The LEP’s private sector and community sector directors and representatives are selected through an open, transparent and non-discriminatory competition, which assesses each candidate on merit. A cascade approach, using traditional and social media, is used to advertise vacancies and the diversity and geographic base of candidates is reviewed at the short-listing stage. The remaining directors and sector representatives are nominated by their respective sectors, and the arrangements for this are set out in the LEP’s Articles.
We inform the recruitment of new volunteers through our extensive network: we have undergone nearly 100% churn in the last two years, as directors and representatives’ terms of office have come to an end. This is entirely positive as it brings new ideas and energy to the LEP and makes clear that we are not a ‘club’ for a select few.
The LEP does not pay expenses to non-executive directors or sector representatives for attendance at routine, scheduled meetings; expenses will only be paid in exceptional circumstances where agreed in advance with the Chairman, though this has never happened to date.
A key strength of our governance structure is the role of the LEP Forum. Its members are responsible for regularly feeding back information about the LEP to the constituencies and stakeholder organisations that either elected or appointed them. As such, the Forum plays a central role in ensuring the accountability of the LEP to its wider constituency. It acts as a shareholding body and ratifies, challenges or scrutinizes decisions made or recommended by the Executive Board. The Forum includes a representative from each unitary authority who can vote on behalf of that authority when making decisions. It also has the power to call in decisions if at least four members of the Forum agree to do so once the decisions of the monthly Executive Board meetings are shared through the distribution of draft minutes.
The Forum has been a successful model for decisions made to date, in allocating over £72m of public funds, i.e. Growing Places Fund (GPF), Regional Growth and Local Growth Funds (LGF), in conjunction with the processes of the Accountable Body (AB) (the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead). Those matters reserved for the Forum are summarised in the diagram below, which also illustrates how the other decision-making bodies and the LEP work and are tied together.
Our governance arrangements have improved over three iterations of our Assurance Framework and two Peer Reviews with other LEPs. They are under constant review by the CEO and our Nominations & Governance Committee and can be refined as necessary on an ongoing basis.
The purpose of the Assurance Framework is to determine the practices and standards necessary to provide assurance to government, local partners and the public that decisions on funding are proper, transparent and deliver value for money. The Framework applies to all government funding that Thames Valley Berkshire LEP and its AB are responsible for. In addition to the Framework, the LEP publishes an Impact Report. This sets out the funding available to the LEP and how this has been invested during the financial year.