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Apologies for Absence and Substitute Members
To receive apologies for absence and to note the attendance of any substitute members.
The Committee noted that apologies had been received from Councillors Anderson and Lovelock.
In addition Councillor Bicknell had replaced Councillor Kellaway as the representative of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. Katharine Horler was to replace Steve Lamb as one of the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP’s representatives.
Election of Chairman
RESOLVED that Councillor Munro be re-elected Chairman of the Joint Committee for the ensuing municipal year.
Appointment of Vice-Chairman
RESOLVED that Councillor Bicknell be elected Vice-Chairman of the Joint Committee for the ensuing municipal year.
To approve the minutes of the last meeting held on 23 January 2015.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 23 January 2015 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Urgent Items of Business
Any other items which, pursuant to Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, the Chairman decides are urgent.
There were no urgent items of business but a revised set of recommendations relating to agenda item 8 (Minute 32) were circulated.
To provide the Joint Committee with a progress update on key elements of the Elevate programme during Year 1 (April 2014 to March 2015).
The Committee considered a report providing an update on the Thames Valley Berkshire Elevate programme covering the period July 2014 to March 2015.
Emelye Janes and Rohit Paul highlighted the key outputs for the first year as detailed in the report. Amongst the points made were that the first year had seen improvements in the infrastructure which was continuing to be developed. Four employment hubs had been set up in the boroughs where there was no existing natural location to bring the partners together to deliver Elevate’s aims.
The Joint Committee’s attention was drawn to an example of the work undertaken in connection with lone parents. It was stressed that, whilst they were in many cases outside the 16-24 target group, helping lone parents to get back into work regardless of their age had been one of the original City Deal objectives. Very positive feedback had been received from those involved.
The Joint Committee also noted the work being undertaken to reach hard to find groups and NEETs.
With regard to data, the Joint Committee was advised that the figures for the first quarter of 2015/16 were not yet complete. However, the Joint Committee was assured that data collection had become more robust and this would be crucial for producing future EU information.
The Committee noted the report.
To provide the Joint Committee with a progress update on SPOKE (Local Authority projects):
Elevate West Berkshire
Elevate Windsor and Maidenhead
The Committee received a report updating it on spoke and hub activity in each borough across Berkshire.
A representative of each of the local spokes provided an update on the work of theirs to support the details presented in the report. All indicated good progress with the main points being:
· The Bracknell Hub had moved to the Open Learning Centre following the closure of Charles Square for redevelopment.
· The borough had hit all Cabinet Office targets except that relating to work experience.
· 135 young people had signed up to Elevate in Bracknell Forest.
· Web site uptake was increasing but there was a need to do more work to identify how many visitors were actually young people.
· Partners had not been keen on business brokerage so the focus had turned to sector-based work instead.
· The Reading Hub had opened in April 2015 and was a very lively and attractive place to visit. A number of partners were based there and employers were booked in to run sessions.
· More outreach was to be undertaken
· It had been decided to take a sector-based approach to brokerage so that work was targeted where there was a need.
· They Council was keen to get more people into work experience.
· The need to do more work with ethnic minorities, NEETs and over 50s had been recognised.
· A virtual hub had been launched in February 2015 as there was already a lot of infrastructure to support young people and Slough therefore did not need a new building and could allocate the resource in other ways where it was needed
· Job Centre Plus already provided in Slough what they were looking to provide so the Council had focussed the extra resources on filling the gaps rather than duplicating what was already there. This approach was likely to help embed the programme for the future when funding ceased..
· The virtual approach was bringing bits of the Council, Job Centre Plus and other partners together rather than working in silos, leading to much better co-ordination of the services being offered to young people.
· The web site was a key tool to being used.
· Attention had turned to work experience and traineeships.
· Work experience was, like elsewhere, proving to be hard but the Council had started a programme itself which included employability training.
· The long term unemployed were signing up to trainee ships.
· Slough was also looking at sector-based work aimed at upskilling in areas such as the construction industry and IT where needs were changing. This was working due to the type of companies in the borough.
· Lone parent work with Gingerbread was also going well including confidence building and upskilling.
· In the coming year it was intended to focus on work experience and getting more employers to offer trainee ships
· West Berkshire had also established a virtual hub due to the size of the borough.
· The main aim was to get providers to work together and add value.
· The Council had established a ... view the full minutes text for item 31.
To provide the Joint Committee with an update on the next steps with regard to securing European Social Investment Fund funding.
The Joint Committee discussed the arrangements for pursuing the original commitment to seek additional monies via the European Social Investment fund (EUSIF). The Joint Committee was advised that the partners could now proceed to a formal bid for funding. The report asked the six Berkshire authorities to note and formally endorse the content of the Thames Valley Berkshire City Deal (known as Elevate) European Social Investment Fund Programme – and operational delivery structure.
Some frustration was expressed about the seemingly endless delays in gaining access to the EUSIF monies which even now were not guaranteed as they were subject to a bidding process. It was stressed that there were always risks associated with bidding for EU funding both before and after a successful bid as the auditing of claims was stringent, requiring detailed record keeping to evidence how the funding had been spent and matched. Tim Smith reminded the Joint Committee that a further bid for £8.1m to support the science park had also been made. Whilst the delays which had effectively put the project back by 18 months were unfortunate, he believed there was nothing more anyone could have done.
Since the original decision to bid for the funding, Slough Borough Council had indicated that it was no longer able to identify the level of match funding required, particularly with uncertainty about budgets next year and beyond. In the circumstances, it had not based its project around receiving the EUSIF money, but instead had developed a sustainable offer using only the Cabinet Office funding with the aim that its activities would be mainstreamed by partners when this funding ended. It would not be creating a physical hub with the costs that implied. As it was not reliant on the EU money, and could not identify the match funding, it believed the inherent risks around any EU funding including audit and claw back were too high and had reluctantly come to the conclusion that it could not accept that risk. Therefore, to enable the bid to go ahead and so benefit all while protecting their own position, Slough would remain a partner to the bid to securing the funding but their allocation, £378k, would go into a central pot to be used for pan-Berkshire commissioned services.
In response to a question, the Joint Committee was advised that Slough’s share of the match-funding liability would be met centrally. All authorities accepted this as the basis for agreeing to proceed as they indicated that they could not accept any increase in their original match-funding liability.
RESOLVED that as part of the implementation of the governance arrangements in the City deal agreement, the Joint Committee on behalf of the six Berkshire Unitary Authorities under Section 101(5) and 102(1) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972 take decisions on behalf of the six Berkshire Unitary Authorities in respect of managing and delivering the outcomes of the City Deal EUSIF programme as agreed through the LEP Forum, and in this regard:
i) Reading Borough ... view the full minutes text for item 32.
Elevate Programme Year 2 (Hub & Spoke)
1 To provide the Joint Committee with an update on local delivery.
2 To provide the Joint Committee with an update on Pan-Berkshire projects during years 2 and 3.
The Joint Committee noted that there was nothing to add to the earlier progress reports. However, Grant Thornton confirmed in response to a question from Tim Smith that there was no change in the relationship between the accountable body and the LEP.
Member Involvement in Elevate
To discuss member involvement in Elevate.
In view of the present developments, it was agreed to hold a further meeting of the Joint Committee at 10.30am on 18 September 2015 after the scheduled meeting of the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP Forum.
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