The Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) has revealed some clues about how the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) will support regional levelling-up with more detail expected this spring.
Local London has been working hard to make a case for funding from the UKSPF, which will replace monies distributed by the European Union.
The sub-regional partnership would have expected around £1 billion in growth support from the EU between 2021-7 as a ‘less developed region’ had the UK remained. We are campaigning for similar funding.
But there has been little information and no consultation around the UKSPF up until now.
Rishi Sunak MP, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, did not announce substantial detail about the UKSPF at the CSR in November, but did say further details will be set out in a “UK-wide investment framework” which will be published in the spring.
The Chancellor announced £220m will be allocated in 2021-22 to help local areas prepare for the introduction of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund through pilot programmes which explore new approaches.
A Treasury document published after the CSR said there would be two portions of the UKSPF.
The first will target “places most in need across the UK, such as ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and rural and coastal communities”, and prioritise:
• Investment in people, through initiatives such as work-based training and other local support such as for early years
• Investment in communities and place, “including cultural and sporting facilities, civic, green and rural infrastructure, community-owned assets, neighbourhood and housing improvements, town centre and transport improvements and digital connectivity”
• Investment for local business, which includes support for “innovation, green and tech adoption, tailored to local needs”.
A second portion of the UKSPF will be targeted at “people most in need through bespoke employment and skills programmes that are tailored to local need”.
The Treasury document said this would “support improved employment outcomes for those in and out of work in specific cohorts of people who face labour market barriers”.
The Chancellor also announced a new £4 billion Levelling Up Fund to equalise disparity between the regions of the UK.
Local areas can apply for up to £20m each from the fund to spend on projects which command local support, including from an MP.
The Chancellor said the fund, which will be controlled from Westminster, was designed to improve “the infrastructure of everyday life”. He cited examples of the types of project funding was available for – “for a new bypass, upgraded railway station, roadworks to cut traffic, more libraries, museums and galleries, or town centre improvements.”
The fund will be managed jointly by the Treasury, the Department for Transport and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Projects must have “real impact” and be delivered before the end of the current parliament in 2024.
As yet, the process and detailed criteria for applying to The Levelling Up Fund is not known, but given the prescribed completion date for projects, this announcement is expected imminently.