Agenda item

Scrutiny Review on Supporting the Local Economy

-           Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services to report.


Councillor Beck, Cabinet Member for Business Growth and Regeneration introduced the report by the Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services which provided the response to the thirteen recommendations of the Scrutiny Review into Supporting the Local Economy.


The review was conducted by a group from the Improving Places Select Commission, chaired by Councillor Wallis.


The objectives of the review were:-


·                To analyse the impact of changes to local government finance – particularly business rates.

·                To analyse how the Council can create  the right conditions for growth in the private sector.

·                To influence the development of the Growth Plan for Rotherham, which in turn feeds into the City Region Strategic Economic Plan (SEP).

·                To develop a whole Council approach to increase business rates in Rotherham.


The scope of the review was kept narrow as it was anticipated that the review could expand to cover a wide range of issues thus diluting the impact of its recommendations and extending the time it would take to complete.  Members, therefore, agreed to focus on the following lines of enquiry during the review:


·                What is the impact of an increase/decrease in business rates on the Council finances?

·                What is the impact of this on the local economy?

·                How can the Council support economic development and what should be in the growth plan? What different models can be adopted?

·                How are supply chains supported?

·                What incentives can be offered to local businesses?

·                How do we evaluate success? How have others achieved it?

·                Impact of funding.

·                What are Rotherham’s growth areas?

·                What specifically is the approach to Tourism?

·                How can the following services be used to generate business investment?


o     Asset Management

o     Transport

o     Planning

o     Housing


·                How do we impact on the most deprived areas of Rotherham?


The group interviewed a wide range of witnesses during the course of their work, including Council Officers, the Chamber of Commerce and from the private sector.


The Group produced thirteen recommendations, covering a range of issues relating to the Rotherham economy.


Officers have reviewed these recommendations and their responses were set out on the attachment to the report.


Officers agreed, in whole or part, with all the recommendations and in a number of cases they have already been implemented.  However, some of them would require further consideration and require either policy considerations and/or financial considerations.  It was proposed to defer these and bring them back to Cabinet when further work had been carried out. 


Cabinet Members welcomed this good news story and suggested several administrative improvements to the action plan.


The Deputy Leader referred to Recommendation No. 12 and the need to raise awareness within the Council and suggested this also include the changes to business rates and the generation of income for the Council.  As part of the budget consultation process the reliance on business rates as a future income was highlighted and this should be considered and articulated alongside the action plan to ensure this was not lost.


The Cabinet Member for Business Growth and Regeneration welcomed any input to the action plan to add value and would ensure that investment creation, income generation and reliance on business rates would be included.


Resolved:-  (1)  That the response to the Supporting the Local Economy Scrutiny Review recommendations be approved.


(2)  That everyone involved in this review be thanked for their input.


(3)  That the response to the Scrutiny Review be submitted to the next available meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board.

Supporting documents: