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GM LEP assembles funding pot

The Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership will take the next steps on Monday towards launching an investment vehicle to spend on priority projects aimed at driving economic growth.

The board of the LEP is due to approve the Greater Manchester Investment Framework and agree to appoint an independent advisory board.

Funding has been assembled from a variety of sources, the report states:

  • Regional Growth Fund Round 2 Programme: £30m
  • Growing Places Fund: c£25m
  • Evergreen (European Investment Bank's Jessica programme): up to £20m
  • European Regional Development Fund unallocated funding: Amount to be confirmed

Revenue funding, to cover ongoing costs of administering the pot, will come from enterprise zone revenue, pooled business rates, community infrastructure levy and section 106 planning agreements.

The LEP paper suggests the launch of the Jessica (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas) programme is imminent; there will be two funds, Evergreen for the North West outside Merseyside, and another for Merseyside. No formal launch has taken place for Evergreen or Merseyside to date.

There is around £190m of unspent ERDF money remaining in the current programme, to be allocated by the end of 2013.

Last year, Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, was appointed deputy chairman of the programme monitoring sub-committee of the €755.5m ERDF for the North West. The sub-committee is chaired by Philip Cox, director of local economies, regeneration and European programmes at the Department for Communities & Local Government in London.

A spokesman for ERDF NW said the spending target for 2011 of £256.7m was exceeded and around 70% of the total 2007-13 programme has been allocated.

The GM LEP investment framework paper to be discussed on Monday was written jointly by Bernstein, and Eamonn Boylan, chief executive of Stockport Council.

The report states: "The GM Investment Strategy focuses on developing projects that drive economic growth and jobs; identifying those that require GM support in order to make them investable and adopting approaches that leverage in the maximum private sector investment into GM.

"There are a number of funding sources, both capital and revenue, available to the GM LEP and the GMCA [Greater Manchester Combined Authority] that are to be invested in GM projects to maximise economic growth. In many cases, the economic benefit of each pound invested is maximised through recycling to enable further projects to progress and be developed.

"The investment approach has been developed to align with the GMS [Greater Manchester Strategy] strategic objectives. It aims to provide the necessary stimulus to develop those projects that maximise the economic benefits that can be achieved through the investment."

The report adds: "An overarching single governance approach is therefore required to enable the appraisal, assessment and governance of projects taking into consideration the wider commitments of GM from a capital and revenue perspective and to deploy funds to provide the greatest benefits to GM."

The investment advisory board will recommend and check bids against agreed priorities but will not have decision-making authority. The due diligence rules and criteria to be followed will be those used in ERDF and RGF.

Following Monday's GM LEP meeting, the investment approach will be agreed by the GM Combined Authority, the group of ten local councils, at the end of January. Job descriptions for the investment advisory board will then be published, the chairman's role advertised and a long list of candidates drawn up.

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