West Midlands NO!

Regional government: unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted

Remember that £5m grant to the “City Region”?

Posted by wonkotsane on September 16, 2006

On August 5th the Shropshire Star reported that the West Midlands City Region (as it was known then) had been granted £5m from central government to tackle poverty and unemployment.

Like a lot of people, I thought it a bit strange that central government could award such a vast sum of money to an organisation that doesn’t yet exist and with no guarantees that the organisation that finally comes into being will actually be fit for the purpose.

I can reveal that the £5m was not, contrary to press releases that asserted as such, awarded to the “City Region”.  The grant was, in fact, made to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), a part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

So who has been telling porkies?  I hope to find out very shortly.  In the meantime, here is the email conversation that uncovered this blatant piece of untrue propaganda.

Gerry,

I am writing to you as I am extremely concerned about a report in the Shropshire Star on August 5th regarding the Birmingham, Coventry and Black County City Region and you are, I am told by your colleagues, one of only two people in the council who are familiar with the City Region.

The report said that the City Region has been granted £5m from central government to boost unemployment and tackle poverty across the “region”.

The reason I am concerned is that the City Region doesn’t exist yet and you have told me that it won’t exist until early next year when the proposals will be finalised and made public. I don’t claim to be an expert in banking, financial or company law but I have worked in the finance sector and picked up enough basic knowledge to know that you cannot give money to a company or organisation that doesn’t exist – especially not £5m of public money! I was wondering if you could tell me who has accepted this £5m on behalf of the non-existent City Region and what is being done with it. I assume that the money is being held in escrow by a competent authority with a view to handing over the capital sum with interest to the City Region if and when it comes into being? I believe this is the norm in cases such as this. Is there perhaps a legal entity already set up that will be incorporated as the City Region in future that has the authority to act as if it were the City Region?

The other thing that concerns me is that this central government department has granted the money to the City Region despite not knowing whether the final organisation will actually be fit for the purpose to which this money has been allocated. As you assured me there is no firm proposal for the City Region when I asked for a copy of the proposals, it is impossible to tell whether the final organisation will actually be suitable for tackling poverty and unemployment throughout the whole “region” or whether that money would be better spent by elected councils who know their own town/city.

Could you please advise who this central government department is so that I can ask them about it too?

Thank you in advance,

Stuart Parr aka wonkotsane


Stuart,I attach a press statement from the regional LSC (click here). This was the statement that the Shropshire Star used as a basis for the report to which your email refers. I would also refer you to the Department for Work & Pensions’ press release on the same subject:http://www.dwp.gov.uk/mediacentre/pressreleases/2006/jul/fmc080-270706.asp.

Finally, you might try ‘googleing’ ‘dwp city strategy’ or ‘dwp city strategies’ for more comprehensive information.

I would confirm that no firm decisions have been taken about how the city region will operate or the nature of its responsibilities. However, the partnership will continue to operate in a transparent manner, issuing press statements as ideas are firmed up. We hope to be able to consult on these emerging ideas towards the end of the year.

Gerry Dawson

Head of Regeneration & Economic Development Borough of Telford & Wrekin


Thank you Gerry. So the money has not actually been given to the City Region, it’s been given to the local authorities that want to be in the city region?


Stuart.The City Strategy is complex. I would refer you to the comprehensive information that is available on the net and to which I have pointed you.This should answer all of your legitimate questions.

Gerry Dawson 


Gerry,I’ve followed that link for the DWP and read the press release. I’ve read as much about the City Region on the internet as I can find and I still don’t understand where this money went. It hasn’t gone to the City Region because it doesn’t exist so who did it go to? Has it been shared between the local authorities or is it being jointly administered or am I missing something here?Stuart


Stuart,The LSC is the Accountable Body. This means that money will be directed through it.May I respectfully suggest that you direct any further questions on this issue either to the LSC or DWP, via the web sites I have indicated.

Many thanks.

Gerry Dawson


Gerry,I will gladly speak to the LSC if it is they that have received the money.Can you just confirm that the £5m was given to the LSC and not the “City Region”?

Stuart 


Stuart,My last email made this abundantly clear.Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.

Gerry Dawson

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2 Responses to “Remember that £5m grant to the “City Region”?”

  1. John Franklyn said

    It is a crazy position to be in, £5 million and nobody really knows or wants to say where it is, avoids giving answers to legitimate well formed questions and they consider this to be operating in a transparent manner.

  2. […] Information released early in the planning process of the City Region showed that scrutiny of the unelected City Region would be be provided by the unelected West Midlands Regional Assembly and that both the Chief Executive and Leader of the Council for each participating local authority would get a job in the City Region. References: [1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3984387.stm [2] https://wmno.wordpress.com/2006/09/16/remember-that-%c2%a35m-grant-to-the-city-region/ […]

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