Presented By:Councillor Peter Hughes
(1) The Mayoral Q&A event held with members of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee on 12 December 2018 was noted; and also noted was:
(a) The committee’s views on the need for the WMCA to engage with Overview & Scrutiny Committee in the process to develop the budget, and that the consultation timescales should allow the committee to review the draft budget proposals in sufficient time to enable it to undertake its role effectively.
(b) The committee’s comments and observations on how the WMCA measured the effectiveness and impact of how it allocated its resources.
(2) The recommendations of Overview & Scrutiny Committee arising from the Mayoral Q&A event (section 5 of the report) were approved as set out below:
(a) The WMCA should seek to establish a robust budget consultation process for future annual budgets, which built in and ensured adequate time for proper scrutiny. It should also consider the use of innovative ways to consult with residents and the younger generation of the West Midlands (eg. live streaming consultation events) which could help raise the general awareness and profile of the WMCA.
(b) The current performance framework should align with the budget framework to enable the outputs and achievements to be seen, with Overview & Scrutiny Committee to be engaged in the development of future performance management frameworks, including pre-scrutiny consideration of the proposed report on performance management/delivery monitoring due to be considered by the WMCA Board on 8 February 2019.
(c) The Transport for West Midlands’ performance data was currently reviewed by Transport Delivery Committee on a regular basis, however it was considered that the Overview & Scrutiny Committee’s Budget Working Group should review transport performance data, on an exception basis, and question how it related to budget spend.
(d) WMCA to establish a policy document that defined its approach to the delivery of social housing and that also identified the percentage of social housing and affordable housing it wished to achieve within the West Midlands area.
(e) In addition to social value and procurement, when making investments the WMCA should also look at a number of other measures including equality and diversity, inclusive growth and environmental improvement to achieve a carbon neutral environment. These key issues should therefore be included in any project appraisal process.
(f) The review of the Ring and Ride service, including the integration of other forms of local transport schemes (including community/hospital transport) be prioritised for consideration during 2019/20, rather than being a ‘medium term’ aim. The Board should note that the Overview & Scrutiny Committee would be happy to support the portfolio holder and Transport Delivery Committee in trying to achieve this.
(g) WMCA to give priority to developing an Arts & Culture Strategy and Physical Activity Strategy, to establish unique selling points for the region, which set it apart from its peers, reflected its diverse nature, achieved physical/mental health benefits and built on the success of achieving the Commonwealth Games and City of Culture to the area.
(3) The following questions being asked of the Mayor (section 6 of the report) which, in accordance with the WMCA’s constitution, he was required to provide a written response to the committee within two months, were noted:
(a) Overview & Scrutiny Committee to review the draft proposals for the establishment of the Youth WMCA, and to receive an update on its purpose, remit, timescales for its establishment and lead officer(s) or Portfolio Lead from the WMCA.
(b) Overview & Scrutiny Committee to receive performance data statistics for each portfolio lead area.
(c) Acknowledging that there was a large underspend on the national
Affordable Housing Investment Fund and that it was expected that the WMCA would apply for a share of this funding pot, Overview & Scrutiny Committee would like to receive an indication of the level of funding the WMCA would apply for and the expectations it would like to achieve in terms of affordable and social housing.
(d) Overview & Scrutiny Committee to receive a map of the WMCA investments in relation to areas of deprivation within the West Midlands.
(e) In respect of the funding assumptions and risks, Overview & Scrutiny Committee would like to receive periodic reports on the details of those red rated risks within the Strategic Risk Register, together with an update on the work that was being undertaken to de-risk them. In particular, the committee would like to receive details of how the Capital Programme would be re-adjusted in those 3 areas of the programme where funding had not been assured prior to Quarter 4 of the 2019/2020 financial year.
(f) With regard to Inclusive Growth, Overview & Scrutiny Committee would like to receive a report on how the gap in income levels and deprivation across the region were to be closed, outlining which key measures within the Business Plan would achieve this and the targets/timescales/data sets that would be used to monitor the delivery of Inclusive Growth.
(g) Overview & Scrutiny Committee to receive a report on proposals for future public consultation on the key activities of the WMCA, including consideration of an annual Residents’ Opinion Survey.
(h) The committee notes that the Mayor agreed with and supports the ambition to achieve carbon neutral forms of transport. So, following on from its previous recommendation relating to the introduction of Sprint routes (using low/zero emission methods as in Nottingham) in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2022, the committee would like to receive a report from Transport for West Midlands giving options for trying to achieve this.
(i) The Overview & Scrutiny Committee would like to know (if these concessions were not to be included within the 2019/20 Transport Levy), when travel concessions were likely to be extended to include ‘WASPI’ women and ex-service personnel in the future?
(j) The Overview & Scrutiny Committee would like to be kept informed on the likely costs of the Mayoral election in 2020, and how these costs were to be funded.
(k) The Mayor suggested that, in order to get a better overall picture, a ‘piece of work’ could be carried out to establish the net effect of the Adult Education Budget being transferred to the WMCA, and the closure of individual programmes delivered locally and funded by European Structural Investment Fund. Overview & Scrutiny Committee would like to be kept informed of the outcome of any such review.