Agenda item

Assurance Framework on Grant Funded Programmes

To receive the report of the Director of Finace regarding capital grant funding administered by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).


The Scrutiny Board received a report of the Director of Finance which advised Members that the Council had been successful in obtaining capital grant funding from three sources administered by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). These grant funding streams were detailed below:

i.              Future High Street Funds; expected grant related expenditure to be completed by 31st March 2024;

ii.            Town Deals Fund; expected grant related expenditure to be completed by 31st March 2025 (the Future High Streets Fund and Town Deals Fund are collectively known as the Towns Fund); and

iii.           Levelling Up Fund; expected grant related expenditure to be completed by 31st March 2025.


In addition, it was expected that there would be more opportunities to bid for a further programme of Levelling Up Funding which had the potential to attract an additional £20m in capital grant funding to the Council. The submitted report outlined the review expected from this Scrutiny Board in respect of the guidance issued by DLUHC on overseeing these grant programmes.


The key points from the guidance in relation to Oldham were:

1.    In accordance with the Cabinet Office Government Functional Standards, the Assurance Framework provides for 3 separate and defined levels of assurance referred to as the three lines of defence;

2.    The first line of defence should be delivered at an operational management level. This is specified as the Chief Finance Officer. In Oldham this is the Director of Finance. This officer has the responsibility for the delivery of HMG investment, through the agreed projects, with propriety, regularity and value for money;

3.    When signing the assurance letter and statement of grant usage the Chief Finance Officer will be required to provide written confirmation that they have actively undertaken all necessary checks to ensure proper administration regarding the funding programme, particularly with regard to financial administration and transparency of governance;

4.    The second line of defence will be independent of the first line of defence and will be undertaken by DLUHC. It will require Local Authorities to engage with and provide supporting information in response to further assurance activity undertaken by DLUHC and other Government departments;

5.    The third line of defence will be undertaken by an independent audit or an independent body to secure an “objective opinion on the effectiveness of governance, risk management and internal controls”.


The guidance implied that these grant funded projects were reviewed in line with the Council’s arrangements for scrutiny. Should the Council be selected for a more detailed review as set out in the second/ third line of defence then the level of scrutiny undertaken will be reviewed.


For the financial year 2023/24 it was suggested that two reports be submitted by Officers to this Scrutiny Board. This report setting out the Assurance Framework and a further report to the meeting that was scheduled to be held on 19th March 2024, setting out progress in relation to each of the funding streams/capital expenditure programmes in line with the basis upon which the funding has been approved, i.e. based on forecast outcomes, milestones and financial profiles.


For the municipal year 2024/25 it was recommended that a further 2 reports outlining the progress on the oversight of these grant programmes are included in the workplan of this Committee.



1.    That the Scrutiny Board notes its responsibility to undertake scrutiny on the detailed grant programmes.

2.    That the Scrutiny Board agrees to the incorporation of a review on progress on the Future High Streets Fund, Town Deals Fund and  Levelling Up Fund twice in a municipal year, with the next report to be presented to the Board’s meeting, which is scheduled to be held on 19th March 2024.

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