Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Friday, 15th November, 2019 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room A, Wellington House, Leeds

Contact: Khaled Berroum, Scrutiny Officer 

Items
No. Item

22.

Chair's comments

Minutes:

Members were saddened to learn of the passing of long-serving committee member Paul Kane. The Committee expressed its deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and held a minute’s silence to mark his passing.

 

The Chair informed members that due to the general election, the regulations imposed by the pre-election period (‘purdah’) were in effect.

23.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed new members Councillors David Jones and Yusra Hussain to their first meeting and apologies were received from Councillors Dot Foster, Jacob Goddard, Graham Isherwood, Sarfraz Nazir, Richard Smith and Rob Walker.

24.

Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

Minutes:

There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests.

25.

Possible exclusion of the press and public

Minutes:

There were no items requiring the exclusion of the press and public.

26.

Minutes of the meeting held on 13 September 2019 pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Minutes:

Resolved:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 13 September 2019 be approved.

27.

Employment & Skills, apprenticeships and the Skills Commission pdf icon PDF 463 KB

To understand the work and aims of the national Skills Commission led by the Chair of the Combined Authority, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, and how it seeks to address concerns in the current apprenticeships and skills landscape. Rashik Parmar, Chair of the Employment & Skills Panel, has also been invited to attend.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the interim Director of Economic Services providing an overview of the Future-Ready Skills Commission – its progress to date and emerging themes and recommendations – and an update on skills programmes delivered by the Combined Authority, with a particular focus on schools engagement and apprenticeships.

 

The following were in attendance for this item:

·         Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe

-   Chair of the Combined Authority & Leader of Bradford Council

-   Skills lead on behalf of West Yorkshire Council Leaders

-   Chair of the Future-Ready Skills Commission

·         Rashik Parmar

-   LEP Board member

-   Chair of the Employment and Skills Panel

-   IBM Fellow and Vice President for Technology (Europe)

·         Michelle Burton

-   Head of Employment and Skills, Combined Authority

 

The Committee revisited some of the conclusions reported in the 18 January 2019 session on skills in the previous municipal year. Questions and discussion included the following:

 

Local control, accountability and devolution:

 

·         The Committee noted that it appeared the national skills system is fragmented and responsibilities lie with different organisations such as universities, colleges, health services and private sector employers and accountability is largely outside of the direct control of local authorities (and LEPs) – which must rely on good relationships and soft power influence.

·         This lack of direct control over the local system is more noticeable in West Yorkshire than in areas that have mayoral devolution deals, including Greater Manchester, where mayoral devolution has resulted in greater responsibility for some skills funding (such as Adult Education Budget) – though, even in these areas there are challenges over the level of funding and still limited remit over the local skills system.

·         The West Yorkshire Combined Authority currently relies on capital funding from external sources – central government departments and the EU – which come with restrictions on how the money is spent and impose numerical targets to be achieved.

·         Whereas, mayoral combined authorities have access to unique funding such as ‘gainshare’, akin to revenue funding, which is awarded on a per capita basis and can be spent at the Mayor and/or mayoral combined authority’s discretion, including on skills programmes, in line with its independent strategic priorities. 

·         The ‘Future-Ready Skills Commission’, chaired by Cllr Hinchcliffe, has sought to address this imbalance by identifying the main challenges and arguing for greater devolution and local control over skills. The Commission released an interim report in November 2019 with the final report expected by June 2020.

·         Some of the Commission’s recommendations are expected to be to the central government, some to Combined Authorities, LEPs and other partners.

·         Some members suggested that the Committee consider exploring how West Yorkshire compares to other comparative combined authority areas in future.

 

Data on apprenticeship levy, apprenticeship starts/completions and skills demand/supply:

 

·         Data on which non-public companies and organisations are subject to apprenticeship levy (or have unspent funds) is private financial information that government agencies cannot share. The LEP is therefore making approaches to employers directly.

·         The LEP has recently launched an Apprenticeship Levy service which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

Strategic updates and performance monitor pdf icon PDF 369 KB

To monitor and scrutinise progress on major strategic issues such as corporate performance (KPI), budget and the risk of ‘cliff edge funding’, devolution and the Local Industrial Strategy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report of the Managing Director updating them on developments in devolution, LEP review & merger, Local Industrial Strategy, Brexit preparations, corporate plan priorities, risk management and budgeting for 2020/21.

 

The Committee was informed that the general election had put most strategic issues, including devolution and the LEP merger, on hold and purdah prevented the revelation or discussion of any new information in public at this time. Further updates would be given following the general election on 12 December 2019 and at the next committee meeting if there is anything to update.

 

Resolved:  That the updates be noted.

29.

Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 142 KB

To consider the work programme, scrutinise key decisions, monitor any live issues not on the agenda and receive updates from spokespersons and working group leaders:

-   Cllr Harrand, Chair & corporate / strategic issues spokesperson

-   Cllr Baker, Deputy Chair & environment spokesperson

-   Cllr Baines, economy spokesperson

-   Cllr Foster, transport spokesperson

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Scrutiny Officer outlining the 2019/20 Work Programme and received verbal updates from working group leads on their first sessions held the previous week.

 

The Climate Change Working Group reported that they have almost finalised their terms of reference and intend to focus on speaking to climate change leads in each authority to discuss with them how each authority is tackling the issue and what their biggest challenges are.

 

The Business Grants Working Group reported that they had almost finalised their terms of reference and intend to speak to the consultants currently conducting the evaluations about their findings at their next session at the end of the month. Working group members also plan to conduct site visits and speak directly to businesses who have received support and grants as part of the review process.

 

Resolved: 

 

i)     That the working group updates be noted and that the notes of the first sessions of the working groups and terms of reference be circulated when agreed and finalised.

 

ii)    That the draft 2020/21 budget be added to the agenda of the next meeting and the focus of the strategic transport item be confirmed as the sale of bus companies, Transforming Cities Fund bid and the HS2 and rail reviews.

 

30.

Date of the next meeting - 17 January 2020