Ian Martin presented a report on the status of the Investment Programme to
assist the Board in setting out the context for any investment decisions to be
made by the Board.
He reported that approved funding from the WMCA Investment Programme
for programmes totalled £795.3 million (as at 28 February 2021), compared
to £795.3 million as at 31 January 2021) with funding drawn down /
incurred against these projects as at 31 January 2021 totalling £265.3 million.
He reported that at the meeting of the WMCA Board held on 19 March 2021 it had been agreed that the headroom be increased by £70 million subject to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee not raising any objections. Thus, the potential for commitments in the Investment Programme now totalled £871 million rather than the £801 million set in November 2019.
He advised that a response from The Treasury was awaited on the outcome of the Devolution Deal Gateway Review.
With reference to the additional headroom, the Chair explained that the affordability was influenced by the timing of expenditure and interest. Since 2019, both of these metrics had moved in the favour of the Investment Programme affordability, with drawdowns being re-profiled into later years and the global economic conditions reducing borrowing levels to historically low levels. It would, however, be necessary to ringfence some of the additional money for revenue risk in relation to the funding of transport due to the pandemic including losses in Light Rail revenue and associated instability within the bus market. Whilst the unmitigated assessment was circa £30m - £50m, a risk assessed value of £10m was considered prudent to provide appropriate financial resilience in the short-term while the on-going uncertainty continued and risks continued to emerge. It was hoped that the Government would continue to support fare revenues and, if this was the case, the sum would be returned to this Board to use for investment purposes.
He advised that the WMCA Board had also agreed to ringfence a further £5m of the £70m for risks associated with the Capital Programme and had set aside £9.5m to deliver Perry Barr Station and Interchange and £20m to deliver the five new Rail stations, with this funding to be returned to the Investment Programme for reallocation if the WMCA were able to lobby successfully the Government to fund the these schemes via the Intra City Transport Settlement.
A provisional allocation of £5.1m had also been made at WMCA Board to allow for a package of #2041 initiatives including the development of the Net Zero Neighbourhood Smart Hub, Energy and Environment Package and Natural Capital Programme as part of the WM2041.
Linda Horne also referred to a sum of £5m from the Investment Programme, approved at WMCA Board, as the local contribution towards the Coventry Electric Bus Town proposal which would release £50m of Government funding plus £84m of private sector matched funding, which represented excellent value for money for the region. A remaining sum of £15.4m had been identified by WMCA Board as being for other Regional Recovery priorities.
The Chair referred to the Government’s recent budget and the grant of £50m towards the Urban Growth Company Hub proposal subject to matched funding. He reminded the Board that £169m had been approved previously for associated projects. He commented that only one meeting of this Board remained in the current Municipal Year and that there was a need to ensure that investment decisions continued to be made, as appropriate. He suggested that delegated authority be granted to the Director of Finance and the Monitoring Officer in consultation with himself to approve any urgent investment decisions with all appropriate information being provided to the Board for information. The Officer meetings via Investment Panel would consider proposals during this period as would be normal process under the Single Assurance Framework.
Councillor Tristan Chatfield referred to the ‘other Regional Recovery priorities’ referred to in the mentioned WMCA Board paper and asked as to the process involved in identifying such priorities and whether discussions had been initiated with partner local authorities on this matter. Linda Horne explained that discussions had taken place through the Regional Recovery Forum which partner local authorities fed ideas into. She gave ‘WM Co-Invest’ and ‘Wolverhampton City Learning Quarter’ as examples of schemes that could be considered by that Forum and which could benefit from such funding subject to compliance with the Single Assurance Framework.
Ian Martin reported that nine schemes were rated as RED on the Dashboard but there were no financial implications. Action would be taken to address the rating through the Change Request process with the revision to start and completion dates as necessary.
1. That the status of the Investment Programme delivery as detailed in the report be noted;
2. That the progress of the Devolution Deal five-year gateway review be noted;
3. That the Investment Programme funding status be noted;
4. That delegated authority be granted to the Director of Finance and the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Chair to determine any urgent investment decisions with all necessary information being circulated to the Board.