Supplementary memorandum from the First Minister, National Assembly for Wales
Following the session between myself, Paul Murphy and Committee members on 21 January, I am pleased to supply you with the further information requested.
1. WEFO will not have exact figures showing the take-up rates for different counties until the late spring, when work has been completed on the new database. It is, however, worthwhile noting two points with regards to the spatial spread of grant in Wales:
Sub-regional co-operation can distort the figures. Some local partnerships work together to submit sub-regional bids which distorts the figures for local partnerships.
Until the new WEFO database is available the true picture will not be known. Regional projects such as those administered by ELWa, have impacts in several different local areas. Once the new database is available WEFO will be able to show commitments and outputs broken down by area.
2. The last time I met Treasury Ministers was in October 2001. Prior to that I met the Chancellor, Gordon Brown in June 2001 for a press conference for Constituency work and again on 26 February for an official meeting.
3. The level of commitment broken down by Priority and Measure is shown on the attached spreadsheet (See Annex).
4. WEFO's aim is to process and approve fully complete applications within 90 days. WEFO have carried out a review of all Objective 1 projects approved under the rolling programme. The average time taken to decide on an application is 103 days. Our information shows that 42 per cent of applications received were actually decided within the 90-day target. WEFO is pleased about the progress made in meeting this very challenging target but aims to reduced the average further as applicants become more familiar with the process. One of the main reasons why this figure is not higher is that some applications are not well prepared and applicants take time to respond to queries. The average could be reduced if we rejected incomplete or unsatisfactory applications immediately, but WEFO tries to work with applicants and partnerships to try to develop all applications to a point where they can be taken forward. WEFO demonstrate clearly that it can meet the 90-day target when applications are strong and well prepared: the minimum time between applications and approval was under 25 days. Further effort will continue to be made with the Partnerships to ensure that they help WEFO to improve the length of time it takes to get projects approved.
Rhodri Morgan AM
20 February 2002