National Audit Office Report

The National Audit Office (NAO) has today (Wednesday 29th November 2017) published a report entitled ‘Investigation into the governance of Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership’.

Whilst the National Audit Office’s remit under the National Audit Act 1983 (as amended) does not extend to scrutinising the activities of individual LEP’s, the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP wrote to the NAO to offer to fully participate in any investigation or report they wished to undertake. Therefore, participation in this report was carried out on an entirely voluntary basis with the sole focus on further strengthening the LEP’s governance processes and transparency.

LEP governance arrangements are set out in the National Assurance Framework, developed and managed by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). A new National Assurance Framework came into being in April 2017, which required all LEPs to make a number of changes to their governance and transparency arrangements.

The NAO report showed that the LEP was not compliant with two elements of the Assurance Framework at the time the new version came into force. These two elements were not having a comprehensive conflicts of interest policy and publication of a diversity statement. The Department were also keen to see Board Minutes published on the LEP website within five working days of a meeting taking place.

The LEP immediately started work to ensure full compliance with the new Assurance Framework by not only putting in place a comprehensive conflicts of interest policy, but also providing each Board Member with training to ensure they fully understood their duties to disclose. A diversity statement was also developed and published, and each set of LEP Board Minutes since have been published on the LEP website within five working days of a Board Meeting taking place and all LEP Board Papers are published at least five working days in advance of the meeting.

This work then enabled the LEP’s Accountable Body, Cambridgeshire County Council, to confirm to DCLG on 25th July 2017 that the LEP was fully compliant with the new Assurance Framework.

It is important to stress that both the NAO Report and DCLG’s initial review of the LEP, and findings shared with the LEP Board, stated that there was ‘no evidence of misuse of public funds’.

The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP takes all matters relating to governance and transparency very seriously, and has acted in a swift and appropriate manner to effectively implement suggested improvements to their processes well in advance of the publication of the NAO report. All of these issues have been comprehensively addressed by the LEP.

Following the publication of the Mary Ney Review, which sets out additional enhancements to the governance and transparency of all LEPs, the team are reviewing the recommendations to ensure they remain fully compliant at all times.