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Reporting Back GM Combined Authority Scrutiny

by burylibdems on 16 January, 2018

Just to report back from the last two meetings of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Corporate Issues and Reform Scrutiny Committee. This is one of three Scrutiny Committees that have been set up to have oversight of the work of the GM Elected Mayor and other issues that happen at a Greater Manchester level. Bury has one or sometimes two councillors on each Committee – the Lib Dem place for Bury is on the Corporate Issues and Reform Scrutiny.

Three main issues over the last two meetings:

Apprentice Levy
The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in April 2017, payable at a rate of 0.5% of pay bill by all organisations with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million. This includes the majority of Greater Manchester’s major public sector organisations (Local Authorities, Health Trusts, Police, Fire and TfGM), with an anticipated £20 million being paid per year.

Public sector bodies, for example Bury Council, still have to pay wages for apprentices (on top of the levy they are paying to the Government), but they can claim back money for training. Bury currently has 40 apprentices, which is great, but no doubt dwarfed by the amount it has to pay in the levy.

The work of the GM Combined Authority on this will focus on:
– Theme One: Workforce Planning.
– Theme Two: Consistent & Co-ordinated Approach.
– Theme Three: Creating High Quality Apprenticeships.
– Theme Four: Integration in wider public service reform.

School Readiness
One of the biggest priorities for the Combined Authority at present is school readiness. Essentially Greater Manchester lags behind the national average the proportion of children who are deemed ‘school ready’ at the start of primary school. Previous major studies have shown that addressing this gap would have a massive impact on the future prosperity and wellbeing in the county.

Greater Manchester (GM) remains an outlier in Early Years (EY) outcomes compared to the national average, with only 68% of of all eligible children achieving a good level of development at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) (reception) in 2016/17, compared with 71% nationally. This equates to approximately 12,000 children starting school this September who have not reached a good level of development.

The priorities in Greater Manchester are going to be:
– All parents will have access to the support they need
– High quality early years services
– Excellent places to play, develop and learn
– Strong leadership and systems infrastructure

Fire Service
One of the bigger areas that comes under this Scrutiny Committee is the Fire Service and at the last meeting we received a number of presentations from senior fire officers. This included an update on the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Annual Report which updates on GMFRS aims:
– Prevention – Protection – Response – Public Value – Financial Information – People

A summer of achievements last year including:
– GMFRS has provided almost 28,000 homes with face to face safety advice including fire risk, crime prevention and health.
– The number of non-domestic fires has fallen by 6% this year and 34% since 2009/10.
– Despite falling budgets and a small rise in the number of fires GMFRS is around a minute quicker than the national average response times for fire and rescue services.
– Community rooms on Fire Stations have been used almost 6,700 times by charities and community groups. • GMFRS volunteers have provided almost 36,000 hours of service.
– GMFRS carbon footprint has reduced by a massive 40% since the 2008/09 baseline.

Full papers are here. Any questions please get in touch!


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