On 16 January Audit Scotland published a report on Scotland's City Region and Growth Deals which highlighted a key concern that whilst the deals have been positive for Scotland's economy, the Scottish Government does not yet have a plan to measure their overall long-term success

What is a City Region Deal (CRD)?

CRDs bring additional long-term funding for regional economic development. They have enabled development which may not otherwise have gone ahead and been a catalyst for increased collaboration between councils and their partners.

£5.2 billion has so far been committed by both the UK and Scottish governments, councils and their partner organisations. Four deals have been signed (Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness & Highland and Edinburgh and South East Scotland) with eight in development and at varying stages (Tay Cities, Stirling & Clackmannanshire, Borderlands, Ayrshire, Argyll & Bute, Moray, the Islands and Falkirk). This means that all areas of Scotland have signed, or are working towards, a CRD/growth deal.

How do we know CRDs have achieved anything?

The Audit Scotland Report highlights the fact that five years after signing the first deal (the Glasgow CRD) the Scottish Government has not yet set out how it will measure the long-term success of CRDs, how it will know whether they are value for money, or how CRDs will contribute to the outcomes in the National Performance Framework. The Report further highlights that it is unclear why some deal projects were approved for funding over others and that local communities have had very little involvement in deals.

Audit Scotland further considers that the accountability of individual deals if something went wrong remains untested and there is a risk that councils and their partners could struggle to deliver deal projects alongside the other challenges facing Scotland's public sector.

What might this mean for you?

CRDs represent an important opportunity for councils and their partners to positively impact the regional economy, however a lack of clear aims and objectives and supporting governance and accountability structures, puts the success of CRD investment at risk of failing to achieve national, regional and local outcomes.

Brodies advises on all aspects of good governance, accountability and risk management arrangements; on equalities outcomes and impact assessments; on elected member engagement and training; on achieving value for money; on economic development and infrastructure including housing, environmental, planning, waste, flooding and energy matters; on strategic planning; on how to undertake rigorous community engagement; and on all aspects of procurement.

If you would like to discuss the implications for you, please contact Jackie McGuire or your usual Brodies contact.