UK Shared Prosperity Fund
Neil MacLennan, Head of the City and Growth Deal Team at the Scotland Office provided an update on the replacement for structural funds at SCDI’s Policy Committee.
Applications for the Community Renewal Fund, a one-year fund of revenue funding that will lead into the Shared Prosperity Fund, are now closed. The Levelling Up Fund is a four-year fund of capital funding that will build on the city and growth deals. There is major interest in the funds in Scottish local authorities.
Two more funds will be announced this summer. The Community Ownership Fund will be community-led and will support projects which safeguard community assets. The Shared Prosperity Fund will be the main successor to structural funds. The details are still being finalised, but the UK Government is considering delivery through a regional approach, picking up Professor David Bell’s recommendations, broadly based on city and growth deals, with the exceptions of some unitary authorities being asked to join regions and one region for the Highlands and Islands.
The UK Government will set some high-level objectives and local authorities will set up regional investment panels to come up with investment plans. It will be expected that third parties, such as the third sector, higher and further education, and local enterprise agencies, will be involved. There’s a commitment from the UK Government that Scotland will not receive less funding through the new funds than it did in the last year of structural funds. There will be roundtables in the summer to engage with stakeholders.
The Community Renewal Fund is about testing approaches to the Shared Prosperity Fund. The roundtables will help to flesh out details of Shared Prosperity Fund. However, Neil stressed that responsibilities will be devolved and consultations will take place around the investment plan.
The involvement of private sector is also sought. Further work is required to encourage unitary authorities to work with regional partners on city and growth deals. The UK Government plans to engage the Scottish Government and a Scotland grouping, chaired by a UK Minister and including the Scottish Government, will be created.
The criteria that were used for the Community Renewal Fund are unlikely to be used for the Shared Prosperity Fund. It is as yet unclear whether political commitment will be made to maintaining the funding regionally. There is a strong emphasis on the quality of bids and a commitment to maintenance of knowledge funding in particular geographies might risk a reduction in the quality of the bid.
SCDI will continue to engage with the UK Government on the Shared Prosperity Fund and the Community Ownership Fund on SCDI members’ behalf and comment on the Shared Prosperity Fund once it is published.