Muddled and murky: when is a repayment not a repayment? Herefordshire Council doesn’t seem too sure.
In August 2017 the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership asked Herefordshire Council to pay the LEP back almost £1.7 million from funding allocated to the council’s South Wye Transport Package for work on the business case for the Hereford Southern Link Road. This now appears in the latest financial report on the council’s Corporate Performance to Cabinet this week as a ‘”re-profiling”: corrected, during the meeting, from a “repayment” as it was worded in the agenda papers.
Government rules require that unspent monies from grants to LEPs are returned centrally at the end of the financial year or the grant fund period. The request from the Marches LEP for their partners – in this case Herefordshire – to submit advance invoices for work not done, and the subsequent request for repayment, show that the LEP has tried to hide from government the actual rate of spend or progress on Growth Deal funding programmes.
“Herefordshire Council leader Tony Johnson’s play with words in the Cabinet meeting yesterday – was this £1.7m a loan, a re-profiled payment, or perhaps a premature invoice for work not yet done? – goes to show the muddled and murky manner in which the Council’s capital programmes are presented. Let’s not dignify that with the term ‘managed’”, said Cllr Liz Harvey.
“We had been led to understand that this £1.7m was a loan to the council. But officers stated there was no loan, so there was no repayment due. It looks like yet another matter for the council’s auditors to investigate”, added Cllr Anthony Powers who raised the issue at Cabinet.
Contacts: Cllr Liz Harvey 07909 753259 Cllr Anthony Powers 07710 943313