A newly published report has lavished praise on the efficiency of Advantage West Midlands – despite the fact it is being abolished amid claims it is overly bureaucratic.
The National Audit Office (NAO) found that AWM was in the top two performing regional development agencies.
According to the NAO’s Independent Supplementary Review, AWM performed ‘strongly’ in the three main scrutinised areas that were:
prioritising in response to the economic downturn and budget cuts,
learning lessons to improve effectiveness, and
bringing about continuous improvement in processes.
The regional development agency was also praised for the manner in which it managed the process of cutting back on its grants after its budget was slashed at the beginning of last year.
The report described its approach as ‘clear’ and ‘sophisticated’ and praised the organisation for keeping partners and stakeholders informed throughout which in turn enabled some partners to find alternative funding sources.
The report added that valuable lessons could be learnt from its good practice by the new Local Enterprise Partnerships that are proposed to replace RDAs.
“At a time of public sector retrenchment, when all public bodies will face similar challenges of reprioritising, focusing on what works effectively and bringing about continuous improvement and efficiency in their processes, we expect our findings and the examples of good practice identified to be of wider relevance,” said the report.
Mick Laverty, AWM chief executive, said the report was a riposte to claims that AWM failed to deliver value for money.
He said: “This independent report confirms the Agency’s positive impact on the region – and comes on top of recent independent evaluations that show AWM achieves £8.14 in economic benefits for every £1 invested.
“It proves the hard work and commitment of our staff has not gone unrecognised by the NAO, an authoratative, independent and respected body with the stated vision to help the nation spend wisely.
"This report pinpoints valuable examples of good practice by AWM and we’re offering our considerable knowledge and expertise to help ensure that the LEPs bids that are submitted to Government from the West Midlands on September 6 are as strong as possible.”