The Assurance Framework sets out the governance arrangements for the City of Preston Towns Fund, which will be updated on an annual basis.
The City of Preston Town Deal Board
The Preston Town deal board is made up of a private sector Chair, local MPs, local government representatives for Preston, the Local Enterprise Partnership, community and local voluntary community representatives, local businesses and other organisations with an interest in the future development of Preston.
The Town Deal Board meet quarterly or depending on operational need.
The agendas and minutes of Board Meetings are published on the Towns Fund Strategic Board page.
Code of Conduct
Members of the Board shall abide by the Code of Conduct.
The Board shall give due consideration to all laws and regulations as appropriate.
The Board will be required to complete, sign and return Declaration of Interests forms on an annual basis.
The Board will, from time to time, consider projects and proposals of a "commercial in confidence" or sensitive nature. All Board Members and Observers will observe the need for confidentiality in this respect.
Board Roles and Responsibilities
Town Deal Board Chair:
- Upholding the Seven Principles of Public Life (the Nolan Principles);
- Leading the Board in achieving its objectives, maintaining an overview of activity, and championing and supporting partnership working.
* The Seven Principles of Public Life (the Nolan Principles)
- Selflessness - Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
- Integrity - Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
- Objectivity - Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
- Accountability - Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
- Openness - Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
- Honesty - Holders of public office should be truthful.
- Leadership - Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.
The Town Deal Board will sign off each stage of Preston's City Investment Plan (CIP) and Town Deal. The Towns fund diagram can be viewed below.
Stage 1 - Preston's City Investment Plan
The Board will be responsible for signing off each stage of the development of the City Investment Plan, this includes the decisions relating to the project prioritisation process and final selection of projects for inclusion in the CIP.
Stage 2 - Heads of Term Agreement /Town Deal
The Board will be responsible for decisions relating to the agreement of a Town Deal with government. The Board will oversee each step of this process along with the Accountable Body (Preston City Council).
The final Heads of Term Agreement with government will be agreed by the Board.
Stage 3 - Full development of CIP projects
The Board will oversee the development of the detailed business cases for all the CIP projects.
The business case development will be carried out by project sponsors and external consultants Hatch. Independent appraisal of the business cases will be carried out prior to submission to government to give the necessary assurance to the Board.
The Technical Implementation Group and Ekosgen will carry out the business case appraisal.
The business cases will be presented to the Board for approval to submit to government following approval by the Accountable Body at a Full Council meeting. Once the business cases have been approved by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Towns Fund Team, the projects will move onto the delivery stage.
Stage 4 - Delivery of CIP projects
The Board and the Accountable Body will be responsible for strategic programme decisions and for overseeing delivery of the programme, monitoring and evaluation of the individual projects and compliance with the Heads of Terms Agreement with government.
The Technical Implementation Group (TIG)
The Technical Implementation Group (TIG) comprises representatives from the Towns Fund Board organisations. The Group will be supported by specialist advisors and consultants.
The current TIG Chair Mark Flemming, UCLan.
The TIG is a technical advisory working group established to support the Board. The TIG will support the Board over the following four phases:
- Phase 1 Project assessment (March - May 2021)
- Phase 2 Summary Plan (March 2021 - March 2022)
- Phase 3 Programme Management (up to March 2026)
- Phase 4 Monitoring and Evaluation
The Technical Implementation Group, on behalf of the Towns Fund Board and accountable body will oversee the project and programme monitoring.
TIG Terms of Reference have been agreed with the Board and can be found in the Technical Implementation Group - Annex B.
The Towns fund diagram
Preston City Council (PCC) will be the Accountable Body for the City of Preston Town Deal and is the Council through which funding will flow. PCC will be responsible for the total funds.
The responsibilities as set out in Towns Fund guidance are set out in the Accountable Body Towns Fund Responsibilities - Annex C.
PCC as Lead Council will have a seat on the board and take responsibility for ensuring that decisions are made by the City of Preston Town Deal Board in accordance with good governance principles.
As Accountable Body PCC will have to meet a number of conditions - providing regular feedback on progress, external monitoring and evaluation and ensuring reports are regularly submitted to timetable.
Financial management arrangements will be in line with the Council's financial procedure rules set out in PCC's constitution. Additional financial reporting requirements will be put in place to ensure comprehensive data is submitted to government at least every six months.
The data will include the following:
- Expenditure on the project total: forecast and actual
- Match funding, broken down by sector (public/private/third sector) - actual and forecast
- Contractual commitments - actual and forecast
Grant Funding Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding will set out requirements for project owners to submit to PCC the required financial data by a specified time period.
PCC will be responsible for ensuring risk management arrangements are in place and adhered to for all CIP projects.
Section 151 Officer
Preston City Council's Section 151 Officer will be the officer responsible for the oversight of the financial administration and governance arrangements of the Towns Fund.
The Section 151 Officer will be required to scrutinise and sign off the comprehensive set of data prior to submission to Government.
The Section 151 Officer will access the requests for the 5% Capital Upfront Pre-payment up prior to presenting to the Board for approval.
The Accountable Body/Section 151 Officer can use freedoms and flexibilities including capital swaps and moving money between projects to achieve spend as per the Towns Fund rules.
PCC Plans and Strategies
The City Investment Plan will be fully aligned with Achieving Preston's Priorities, the key document setting out the Council's Priorities, Plan and Medium Term Financial Strategy, the Local Plan and the City Centre Area Action Plan.
Fair Employment and Living Wage
PCC's role as Accountable Body and any funded projects for which PCC is the project owner will be undertaken in full accordance with PCC's policies on fair employment and the living wage.
Towns Fund Social Value Policy
Equality and Human Rights Impact Assessments will be undertaken where appropriate.
The Board will ensure communities and stakeholders are consulted and actively engaged in shaping the projects.
Stakeholder Engagement and Communications
The Lead for Communications will be nominated from the Towns Fund Board and assisted by the Head of Policy and External Relations, Preston City Council.
The Board will receive timely communication updates.
The communication protocols are set out within the Communication Based Engagement Plan attached at Annex E.
Business Case Development
All project sponsors must prepare a five case business case.
Hatch consultants, retained by the accountable body on behalf of the Towns Fund Board will prepare the strategic and economic cases for all six projects.
Business Case Appraisal
Business Case - Proportionality
Business Cases should address, in a proportionate manner, the five cases set out in the HM Treasury Green Book.
The six Towns Fund projects will work towards achieving a series of business case progress milestones which have been agreed by the Towns Fund Board and the project sponsor.
The progress milestones set out the stage at which it is agreed acceptable for the business case to be confirmed as "final" and appropriate for appraisal. Towns Fund guidance includes advice on proportionality.
As set out within Towns Fund guidance, business cases for each Towns Fund project must be "sufficiently detailed and robust to pass through local assurance mechanisms"1. This local assurance framework adopted by the Preston Towns Fund Board seeks to fully comply with the most up-to-date Towns Fund Guidance and the HM Treasury Green Book (2020).
Benefit Cost Ratio
In accordance with Towns Fund guidance there is no minimum threshold for benefit-cost ratio for the Preston Towns Fund projects. In line with the additional Green Book Guidance 2020, the accountable body and Preston Towns Fund Board recognise the importance of non-quantifiable benefits in setting out the rationale for investment. To follow best practice, all Business Cases
must contain robust value for money assessments. If value for money is low, then additional justification should be provided.
Match funding should be confirmed (with evidence provided) wherever possible, but the business cases can refer to be unconfirmed match funding. Where match funding is not confirmed, as much detail as possible should be given about the current status, the remaining actions needed to secure it and the timescales for this.
The Business Case should also set out risk management strategy regarding any match funding not secured.
Summary Plan Submission
Monitoring and Evaluation
All business cases must include a monitoring and evaluation plan. The outputs to be monitored will be set out in a schedule in the appropriate contracting arrangement.
All project sponsors will enter into a grant funding agreement (prior to drawing down the Towns Fund grant) with the accountable body. Where the accountable body is also the project sponsor a memorandum of understanding will be entered into.
The grant funding agreement and memorandum of understanding will include:
- a schedule of conditions agreed by the accountable body and Towns Fund Board as a result of the appraisal process;
- key milestones;
- outputs - delivery of which will be monitored and reported to Towns Fund Board and government.
Template grant funding agreements and memorandum of understanding are attached to this assurance framework as and Annex K.
Project Monitoring and Change Control
Once projects are finally approved project spend should be in line with the forecasts made in the business case. However the Towns Fund Board recognise that circumstances change and project adjustments may need to made once projects are live.
The Technical Implementation Group, on behalf of the Towns Fund Board and accountable body will oversee the project and programme monitoring. Once all business cases are complete and there is greater certainty on outputs and key milestones against which progress can be monitored a monitoring schedule will be put in place.
The assurance framework will be updated at the appropriate time.
5% Capital Funding Pre-Payment
To support with project delivery, DLUHC have released an early payment of 5% of the total Heads of Terms offer in the form of a Section 31 grant.
The funding enables early-stage activity in project development. Funding can only be spent on Preston's 6 Towns Fund projects.
The funding can be used for projects where Business Case Summary Documents have not yet been submitted to DLUHC. If a project within a Town Deal does not ultimately proceed to the delivery stage, DLUHC will not seek to claw back the 5% early draw down. View Annex L.