Conclusions and recommendations |
1. The Department's management of the programme
has been weak, and has not demonstrably added value to the programme.
Its programme management
systems are not commensurate with the programme's size and scale
of ambition. Instead of retaining direct day-to day management
uniquely for this programme, it should delegate operational management
of the Gateway to the proposed new regeneration agency, the Communities
and Homes Agency, to sit along side the other housing growth programmes,
and utilise the agency's housing and regeneration expertise. The
Department would then be better able to concentrate on policy
development and achieving cross-government coordination
2. The Thames Gateway is one of 15 mission
critical programmes prioritised by the Government, with an ambitious
vision which will require sustained prioritisation and cooperation
across Whitehall. In response to the Comptroller
and Auditor General's Report, the Government has established a
cross-government board of senior officials to provide overall
strategic management of the programme. Members of the board will
need to embed the Thames Gateway programme into their departments'
core work, on the basis of explicit and mutually agreed commitments
defining their part in the programme, and responsibility for delivering
3. The Department has not translated the vision
for the programme into comprehensive and measurable objectives,
nor are there robust systems to measure progress.
The relevant departments should agree a balanced scorecard of
indicators and measure cross-government spending on the programme.
The Department should publish reports annually on the programme's
4. The delivery chain for the Thames Gateway
is unclear. There are over 100 organisations
involved in the Thames Gateway programme across central, regional
and local government and the private and voluntary sectors. There
are multiple funding streams channelling into projects and multiple
lines of reporting. The Government needs to establish and set
out the roles of each of the organisations involved and of each
layer of government so that there is no unwarranted overlap of
responsibilities or duplication.
5. The Department does not know how much the
regeneration of the Thames Gateway will cost the taxpayer. It
has promised to establish a costed implementation plan by November
2007, linked to the outcome of the comprehensive spending
review, but with the risk that the plan will only include those
projects that can be immediately accommodated within departments'
three year budgets. The implementation plan should cost all the
steps necessary to achieve the government's ambitions for the
Thames Gateway, including those that have yet to be approved or
establish their funding.
6. There is a risk that the economic benefits
of regeneration will not reach existing residents. Current
employment levels in the Thames Gateway are lower than the surrounding
region. The aim is to increase the number of jobs in the Thames
Gateway, but the Department does not know how many of these jobs
will go to existing residents. There is a risk that improved public
services, infrastructure and housing will be concentrated in new
developments. The Department should consider the impact on existing
residents in developing its strategy, implementation plan and
project appraisals, so that both they and new residents share
in the benefits of regeneration.
7. Some local regeneration partners have low
capacity and struggle with complex procurement and engaging potential
investors. The Department has established
nine local regeneration partnerships to coordinate local planning
and projects and spends £10 million on their administration
each year. It needs to establish a clear management and performance
monitoring framework for these partnerships.
8. Local MPs do not feel sufficiently engaged
with the Thames Gateway programme. The
programme would benefit from local MPs having a clearer role in
promoting local plans and engaging local communities. The Department
needs to consult and engage MPs more systematically through the
Thames Gateway parliamentary group and on an individual basis.
9. Many stakeholders are calling for better
engagement with the private sector. The
private sector will provide most of the investment needed in the
Thames Gateway but the Department cannot give assurance on the
amount of private funding levered in taxpayers' investment and
has not explored all options for raising private finance. The
Department needs to bring on board institutional investors and
developers to advise them on how better to engage the City and
other private investors.
10. Multiple inward investment agencies operating
within the region and the lack of a coordinated marketing strategy
have led to poor visibility of the programme outside the area
and amongst potential investors. To raise
awareness of the programme and attract investors, employers and
new residents to the area the Department should develop
a coordinated marketing campaign including a central marketing
suite open to the public and potential investors; a branding strategy
agreed amongst all partners; and appropriately targeted advertising.