As part of the Spring 2021 Budget the UK Government has announced new investment programmes to support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic across the whole of the UK, “level up” opportunities and to prepare areas for the launch of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) in 2022.
While the current EU Structural funds are invested until 2023, the Government has committed to at least matching EU receipts through the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The latest release states the fund will go beyond replacing like for like and provide a successor to EU Structural funds “designed to increase funding for projects that are supporting people and places across the UK, focused on our domestic priorities, growing local economies, and breathing new life into our communities.”
The long-term vision of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be shared through an investment framework to be published later this year, with funding beginning in 2022.
The UK Community Renewal Fund
In preparation for the UKSPF £220 million of investment will be provided for 2021-22 under the UK Community Renewal Fund, giving local areas the opportunity to pilot new approaches and programmes that support people and communities most in need. It will also provide capacity support with transitioning away from EU structural funds and help inform the design of the UKSPF.
What is the funding for?
The UK Community Renewal Fund will invest in projects in local authority areas (or Places) that align with one or deliver across several of the below investment priorities, with no no-ringfences applied across the themes:
- Investment in skills
- Investment for local business
- Investment in communities and place
- Supporting people into employment
A key focus of the fund is to support innovative and new ideas for pilot programmes that better support people and communities in need, while aligning with long-term strategic plans for local growth and complementing other local and national provision.
Monitoring and evaluation will also be an important requirement of projects with proposals needing to demonstrate the intended impact of projects and a minimum value of the awarded funds being dedicated to an evaluation plan and reporting. Projects must not benefit a single entity but evidence wider impact on multiple individuals, businesses, or organisations.
Who can access the fund and how?
The UK government has assigned lead authorities to the Places (such as the County Council or Mayoral Combined Authority) who will invite project proposals from local applicants including local district councils, businesses, voluntary and community sector organisations and local education providers including universities. There is a maximum bid limit of £3million per Place, with individual projects encouraged to be upwards of £500,000. Projects should have one lead applicant but can consist of delivery partnerships.
The lead authorities will appraise and shortlist projects to be submitted to UK Government for selection; bids will only be accepted from the lead authorities.
100 Places have been identified using an index of economic resilience which will be prioritised for investment. Lead authorities from the 100 Priority Places will also receive capacity funding to support their application process. The list of 100 places and assigned lead authorities is available here
Northern Ireland will receive a pre-determined allocation of £11 million available to the whole area and with application directly to the UK government, considering the different local government landscape. Gibraltar will also receive a portion of investment from the fund as an overseas territory recipient of EU structural funds.
The deadline for lead authorities to submit their shortlist of project proposals to UK Government is 18th June 2021, with money needing to be spent by the end of March 2022.
More detailed requirements for the role of the lead authorities will be published shortly. To find your lead authority check the assignment list linked above.
The prospectus on the UK Community Renewal Fund has been published here on the UK Government website detailing the delivery process, investment priorities and selection criteria for proposals, with a full Fund Eligibility Rules and Guidance document due to be published shortly.
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