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19 July 2016

EMC Annual Report 2015 - 2016

The East Midlands Councils (EMC) Annual Report 2015/16 was published on 15 July 2016, at the EMC Annual General Meeting.

This Annual Report is part of how EMC accounts to its membership. 12 months ago, Members agreed a set of priorities that EMC needed to make progress on.

12 months on - EMC is now reporting back to its membership on how it has delivered against these commitments. This Annual Report covers the services provided by EMC, including lobbying for greater investment and infrastructure funds, providing focused member and officer development programmes and our role as the Regional Employers’ Organisation; as well as taking forward the increasingly important migration work through the Strategic Migration Partnership. 

The 4 pillar approach continues to provide the framework for EMC’s work, these pillars being an all-member organisation, policy development, collective work and lobbying, and improving communications. In many areas, there has been significant and demonstrable success; in other areas there is still work to be done and we need to continue to respond to the changing context of national government policy and the uncertainties that Brexit brings.

As an ‘all-member organisation’; we routinely offered all councillors in the region opportunities to attend our briefing, skills development and training events with 1850 councillors and officer places taken throughout the year (9% increase on 2014/15). We have continued to offer advice, access to low cost services and capacity support to our member councils and all councils in membership accessed at least one of these discounted services during 2015/16 with EMC delivering total savings for councils estimated to be £844,500 – a return of over 3:1 against total member subscriptions.

On policy development, East Midlands Councils hosts the Strategic Migration Partnership to co-ordinate activities on the dispersal, accommodation and support of asylum seekers and refugees across the region. This has included support to the Home Office in working with councils on widening asylum dispersal areas, hosting a Ministerial conference on the Syrian Resettlement Programme and coordinating the East Midlands response that accommodated nearly 100 of the 1000 refugees who arrived nationally before Christmas 2015. The migration partnership is now set to take on a number of further roles and responsibilities, including the management of UASC and Syrian Resettlement Programmes.

With strong support from LEPs and councils, our approach to economic growth has been further guided by EMC working closely with the West Midlands to develop the ‘Midlands Connect’ initiative, which has now secured DfT financial support (£5 million) to develop a Strategic Transport Strategy with investment priorities by March 2017. Alongside this, EMC has supported the establishment of the Midlands Engine and its developing programme of work. These proposals have the backing of Government and secured over £250,000 of support funding as part of Budget 2016 announcement. 

On collective work and lobbying, in conjunction with the National Housing Federation, EMC has completed a review into the housing challenges for this region. On Hs2, EMC has worked closely with councils to broker a regional agreement on the preferred Hub station location at Toton, and is playing a key role in the development of an Hs2 Growth Strategy to maximise the economic benefits of Hs2 to the whole of the East Midlands. Outside of this region, EMC is working with councils and LEPs across the Midlands and the North through ‘Hs2 East’ partnership to promote the delivery of Hs2 Eastern Leg as a whole, including improved links to the North East and Scotland. 

We continue our work with MPs. EMC in conjunction with the East Midlands Chambers of Commerce has supported the East Midlands All Party Parliamentary Group and this was of real value in successfully lobbying for the ‘unpausing’ of the Midlands Mainline electrification and upgrade investment. 

EMC in its role as the regional employers’ organisation has provided opportunities for local authorities in the region to influence national pay negotiations and developing employment legislation. This has included responses to proposals relating to exit pay, the introduction of an apprenticeship levy and targets for the public sector. On proposals for trade union reform, successful lobbying led to the retention of ‘check-off’ facilities. We have also provided direct organisational support and HR services on 44 different assignments to councils in the region, including but not limited to Interim HR and Learning and Development Support, restructuring and reward advice, grievance and disciplinary advice and investigations, mediation and outplacement. 

On communication, it is essential to demonstrate the value and impact of our work, and EMC needs to ensure that all councillors are well informed on issues that matter to the sector. As part of this, there has been good progress in our work with local radio, press and regional TV networks and there will be further opportunities to more fully involve our members in this work.

And on finances, just like the sector itself, EMC faces significant pressures on resources. Over the last year, however, EMC has secured new sources of external grant funding to support our economic infrastructure work alongside other sources of income, as well as continuing to reduce costs in order that we deliver a balanced budget. Our future success will rest on how EMC delivers ever greater value-added to our member councils at a time when they themselves are facing significant reductions in their own funding. 

Finally, we would like to thank councillors, partners and staff for their support; the progress made over the past 12 months and our achievements are testament to their efforts. We value the continued support, advice and guidance of our members and look forward to working on your behalf during 2016/17.

EMC Annual Report 2015-16

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