(Report by the Deputy Chief Executive – Growth)
Councillor Nigel Welton introduced a report by the Deputy Chief Executive – Growth setting out the UK Shared Prosperity Fund draft submission, the background on the consultation process, and seeking views of Full Council prior to decision by Cabinet on 27 July 2022.
The report stated that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) had opened to provide funding for economic development across the whole of the UK. The focus of the fund was in part the replacement for the previous European Social Fund, with an emphasis on skills based training and development, but was wider and more flexible than its EU forerunners.
The South and East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership (SELCP) had been allocated £9.3 million over the next three years. The fund was a key part in the government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda, providing money for councils to invest in:
Full details of the theme objectives were set out in the UKSPF Prospectus document and replicated in the report.
The breakdown of funding between the SELCP was:-
It was noted that the funding element for the people and skills theme would not commence until 2023. The funding may be spent on activities or buildings and equipment, but was predominantly for revenue projects and there was a suggested split between revenue and capital each year.
The Investment Plan, appended to the report, was a strategy document that detailed how the allocation of the funding would deliver outcomes for people under the three themes set out above.
In considering which projects would be selected to be funded through UKSPF, the Prospectus had been clear that there must have been significant public consultation to ensure the investment plan met the needs of the community and stakeholders to fully maximise the benefits of the fund.
Consultation was held in June and July 2022 and numerous stakeholders were identified and encouraged to submit ideas and share further. There had also been many engagement events held with the public and Councillors.
The Corporate and Community Committee had considered the UKSPF at its meeting on 14 July and were supportive of the plan. The report to Council was for consultation purposes and comments from the meeting would be reported to Cabinet on 27 July 2022.
It was noted there had been a very positive response to the consultation which had been used to form the basis of the investment strategy.
The Draft Investment Plan, attached as an appendix to the report, set out:-
· Local Challenges for each theme
· Local Opportunities for each theme
· What outcomes were to be delivered for each theme
· Approach to delivery and governance
· Examples of some ideas from the consultation responses (for indicative purposes only)
· Examples of collaboration
· Capacity and capability
It was proposed that 6-8 lead bodies would be identified through a competitive process to manage the projects. This would commence once the Investment Plan had been submitted to enable allocation of funding, thereby allowing the lead delivery partners to be in place once the Investment Plan was confirmed.
The lead bodies would be responsible for a theme within the delivery arrangements for the UKSPF and report to the local authority and a governance board.
The strategy for managing the UKSPF was to link the approach across the three authority areas in the SELCP. Each Shared Prosperity Fund area had to have an independent governance group, and for Boston this was proposed to be the Town Fund Board. The role of the governance group was to overview and advise on the evolution and subsequent implementation of the UKSPF strategy.
The Investment Plan would be submitted to Government by 1 August 2022. The competitive exercise would commence thereafter, with a final proposition being presented to Full Council once notification of the Investment Plan being approved had been received.
There was a consensus expressed by Members that although the UKSPF Investment Plan was welcomed, the amount being offered was insufficient for the needs of the Borough area. More pressure should be put on central Government to increase investment for east coast communities which had been ignored by successive Governments for many years.
In summing up Councillor Welton addressed the points raised during debate and agreed that the funding available did not meet the current requirements. However, it was an opportunity to show Government what could be achieved and build on that success when future funding opportunities became available.
It was moved by Councillor Nigel Welton, seconded by Councillor Martin Griggs and unanimously
1. That the draft UK Shared Prosperity Fund Investment Plan be noted.
2. That the draft UK Shared Prosperity Fund Investment Plan be recommended to Cabinet for approval to enable the document to be submitted to the Department of Levelling Up, Communities and Housing by 1st August 2022.