Speaking at a meeting of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s board, Councillor Lisa Trickett challenged the authority’s leadership over the draft budget for 2021/22.
Councillor Trickett branded the amount set aside for the environment and for inclusive communities “unbelievable”.
The draft revenue budget for the year – covering day to day running costs of the authority – indicates the authority is set to spend £314.5 million using its income streams.
Of this, £122.6 million is set aside for transport and £141.9 million is devoted to the delivery portfolios, including areas such as environment, energy and HS2 (£505,140) and inclusive communities (£67,500).
Inclusive communities spending could include making more provision for employment in areas of deprivation.
Putting forward concerns of the combined authority’s overview and scrutiny committee, committee chair Councillor Lisa Trickett said: “We know this is an area where there is a lack of capacity and capability across a number of the local authority areas.
“One of the things scrutiny would very much like to see is a much more consolidated regional budget that actually sees the totality of the resources going in and understands how that is delivering on the needs and requirements of our community.
“At the moment, if you were to look just at the columns, actually this budget does not reflect the needs and requirements and the priorities that have been set out in terms of inclusive growth and zero carbon future.”
Councillor Bob Sleigh, deputy West Midlands mayor and Solihull Council cabinet member for resources, said: “I would acknowledge those are both very important areas within the combined authority’s ambitions and delivery requirements.
“Within the year, we hope to bring forward some proposals to deal with both.
“How we deliver the ten priorities in 2041 which is absolutely critical to us going forward […] and equally the issue of inclusive growth is being actively considered as we speak.
“We will be monitoring very closely the ongoing situation in 2021/22 and we will report back to the board if we have to reposition the budget during that period.
“We are in a difficult situation with regards to Covid so I think it is prudent to support the budget that we have currently placed before you.”
The board agreed to approve the draft budget for consultation as it stands.