We have been awaiting news of a package entitled the ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’. This will replace the European Programme, which has supported numerous projects across Northern Devon for well over 20 years. The curtains will finally be drawn on this next year.
Whitehall promised that we would get a like-for-like replacement and that it would reflect the levels of support necessary to assist both enterprises and communities to overcome long-term areas of market failure.
We should not be surprised that the new pot is nowhere near the size of the old programme or that the levels of red tape, which was a grievance for many who voted for Brexit, is not much different.
A summary is as follows:
UKSPF provides £2.6bn of new funding for local investment by March 2025, with all areas of the UK receiving an allocation from the Fund via a funding formula rather than a competition.
It will support the UK government’s wider commitment to level up all parts of the UK by delivering on each of the levelling up objectives but the primary goal is to build pride in place and increase life chances across the UK.
Funding allocations in England have been determined by a blended approach – 70% is allocated on a per capita basis and 30% uses the same needs-based index previously used to identify UK Community Renewal Fund priority places, namely productivity, household income, skills, and productivity-places with lower population density.
£559m of the fund is for Multiply, a national programme to help people improve their ability to understand and use maths in daily life, home, and work.
UKSPF has 3 investment priorities which link to some of the missions in the Levelling Up White Paper:
Community and Place:
Strengthening our social fabric and fostering a sense of local pride and belonging, through investment in activities that enhance physical, cultural and social ties and access to amenities, such as community infrastructure and local green space, and community-led projects.
Building resilient, healthy and safe neighbourhoods, through investment in quality places that people want to live, work, play and learn in, through targeted improvements to the built and natural environment innovative approaches to crime prevention.
Creating jobs and boosting community cohesion, through investments that build on existing industries and institutions, and range from support for starting businesses to visible improvements to local retail, hospitality and leisure sector facilities.
Promoting networking and collaboration, through interventions that bring together businesses and partners within and across sectors to share knowledge, expertise and resources, and stimulate innovation and growth.
Increasing private sector investment in growth-enhancing activities, through targeted support for small and medium-sized businesses to undertake new-to-firm innovation, adopt productivity-enhancing, energy efficient and low carbon technologies and techniques, and start or grow their exports.
People and Skills:
Boosting core skills and support adults to progress in work, by targeting adults with no or low-level qualifications and skills in maths, and upskill the working population, yielding personal and societal economic impact, and by encouraging innovative approaches to reducing adult learning barriers (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland only. In England, this is delivered through the Department for Education’s Multiply programme).
Reducing levels of economic inactivity through investment in bespoke intensive life and employment support tailored to local need. Investment should facilitate the join-up of mainstream provision and local services within an area for participants, through the use of one-to-one keyworker support, improving employment outcomes for specific cohorts who face labour market barriers.
Supporting people furthest from the labour market to overcome barriers to work by providing cohesive, locally tailored support, including access to basic skills.
Supporting local areas to fund gaps in local skills provision to support people to progress in work, and supplement local adult skills provision, e.g. by providing additional volumes; delivering provision through wider range of routes or enabling more intensive/innovative provision, both qualification based and non-qualification based. This should be supplementary to provision available through national employment and skills programmes.
Funding is over three years from April 1, 2022, and will be paid annually in advance (or as soon as the investment plan has been approved in 22/23, so from October 2022).
Match funding isn’t required. The allocation is largely revenue – 22/23 – 90%, 23/24 – 87%, 24/25 – 80%.
£20k will be provided for each lead local authority to undertake initial preparatory work, and then up to 4% can be used to administer the fund.
Interventions can be commissioned, procured, delivered in-house or via grants to public or private organisations.
Collaboration with other places is “strongly encouraged”, particularly for people and skills activity, or business support activity.
Investment plans should be submitted between June 30 and August 1.
Local partnerships are to be formed by the lead local authority to support them in development of the investment plan. They will also be asked to provide advice on strategic fit and deliverability after the plans have been approved.
Financial Allocations (excludes the Multiply funding)
Somerset (single amount due to unitarisation)
Cornwall and IoS
West of England CA
This is the start of a new relationship with Whitehall. Time will tell whether this will be as successful as the previous European Programme.