Decision Maker: Leader of the Council
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
As Leader of the Council, I agree that Kent County Council shall:
Reason & Background:
In 2020, the Government made a call to Local Enterprise Partnerships for shovel-ready schemes that were able to spend in the next 18 months, as a way to stimulate economic recovery and help mitigate the impact that COVID-19 has had on employment levels.
The Government subsequently awarded £85m of Getting Building Funding (GBF) to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), with which SELEP has funded thirty-six projects from across East Sussex, Kent, Medway, Thurrock, Southend and Essex.
On 19th November 2021, the SELEP Accountability Board removed one of East Sussex’s GBF projects from the programme. This meant £3.5m of GBF became available to be reallocated to alternative projects on SELEP’s GBF reserve project pipeline.
The SELEP Accountability Board decided to award the £1.4m of this reallocated GBF to the Amelia Scott project (in Tunbridge Wells) at its November meeting. A key decision is required by Kent County Council now to allow the transfer of this GBF funding from SELEP to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, via Kent County Council.
Techfort Ltd were advised following the SELEP Accountability Board that £1.009m of GBF is now provisionally ring-fenced for their Techfort project in Dover. In order to formally secure this funding, Techfort Ltd must submit a full business case for the SELEP Accountability Board’s consideration at their next meeting in February 2022. If the SELEP Accountability Board chooses to award funding to Techfort Ltd at that meeting, a Kent County Council key decision will be required so Kent County Council can enter the necessary grant funding agreements with SELEP Ltd, Essex County Council, and Techfort Ltd.
How the proposed decision meets KCC’s policy objectives:
The GBF investment will help Kent County Council to deliver against its objectives within Strategic Plan that was endorsed by County Council 0n 10 December 2020. Specifically, the capital grant investment will help deliver against these priority actions to help address the economic challenge:
· Work with our partners to deliver essential support for local businesses
· Promote Kent’s key business sectors and visitor economy and promote confidence among visitors and residents that our county is ‘open’ within Government guidelines
· Work with partners to enable the necessary physical, social and cultural infrastructure to make Kent an attractive place to live, work and invest in.
· Work with partners to support and reimagine Kent’s high streets and town centres as economic, social and cultural centres.
· Explore opportunities to maximise investment in building retrofit programmes, supporting the local retrofit industry
· Develop a pipeline of ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure projects to act as a catalyst for the construction industry.
Financial & Legal Implications:
SELEP requires Kent County Council to enter into a grant agreement with Essex County Council (which is SELEP’s accountable body) for all schemes awarded GBF by SELEP within KCC’s administrative boundary. The grant agreements give Kent County Council the legal and financial responsibility for ensuring the proper use and administration of the funding in accordance with the terms and conditions. For all third-party projects (such as The Amelia Scott and Techfort), a back-to-back grant agreement between Kent County Council and the third-party project promoter would then be signed.
The value of the capital grant agreements is as follows:
If Kent County Council chooses to not enter into a grant agreement for the GBF projects selected by the SELEP Strategic Board, the GBF funding could be either (i) retained by central government or (ii) reallocated to other projects by the SELEP Strategic Board.
The Government has specified that the GBF must be spent by 31 March 2022 or there is a potential that the funding will be clawed back. Appropriate project management oversight is being directed to the GBF projects to minimise this risk.
As Leader of the Council I agree to:
Agree that the Getting Building Funding (GBF) will be used to support the Kent-based third-party projects that are awarded GBF by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Accountability Board.
Act as the accountable body for third-party projects within Kent’s administrative boundaries that are selected by the SELEP to receive GBF grant funding.
Delegate to the Section 151 Officer the authority to sign on KCC’s behalf a grant agreement or equivalent, where this is required to draw down funds following business case approval.
Publication date: 17/03/2022
Date of decision: 17/03/2022
Effective from: 25/03/2022