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East Midlands funds released

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The government has agreed to release more than a million pounds to the East Midlands regional improvement and efficiency partnership (RIEP).

Local government minister John Healey agreed to the release of£1.3m at a meeting of the RIEP Member Forum earlier this month.

The money was held back from the original allocation of£5.3m which was made last spring, because of concerns over the region’s governance arrangements.

In a letter to Mr Healey in December, David Parsons (Con), leader of Leicestershire County Council and chair of the Local Government Association’s improvement board, wrote: “We had originally recommended that funding was withheld from the East Midlands RIEP pending evidence of satisfactory governance arrangements being in place.

“I am now confident in recommending the remaining funding for 2008-09 should be released.”

The release of year two funding for all RIEPs will be dependent on the production of annual reports by mid-March showing progress against objectives from the regional improvement and efficiency strategy.

Meanwhile, the LGA has admitted that a “substantial amount of work” needs to be done to shake up councils’ procurement. The association is to co-operate with the RIEPs, the Improvement & Development Agency, Office of Government Commerce and 4ps to report by March 2009 on possible improvements.

The move follows the North East RIEP outlining plans in October to shake up the procurement processes of its members in an effort to save£100m over three years.

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