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  • Writer's pictureSteve O'Hare

BLOG: What is the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and how can it work for my business?


The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) is the replacement for the current European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), through which European Social Fund (ESF)

and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) activity was procured.


ESF and ERDF are very much in their wind-down phase following Brexit, with the UKSPF now providing funding to local areas based on their specific needs and priorities.




The purpose of the UKSPF, which is managed by the UK Government, is to reduce economic inequality across different regions of the country by investing in local projects that create jobs, support businesses, and improve social and economic infrastructure.


It is a part of the Government’s much highlighted ‘Levelling Up’ agenda and that has already got underway with the likes of the Multiply scheme which aims to improve adults’ maths skills.


The Government has stated that the new system will be simpler, more flexible and more responsive to local needs than the ESIF was, which can only be a good thing.


UKSPF has two core elements, Multiply, and Core funding, which has three investment priorities:


Communities and Place


This is to support projects, which strengthen our social fabric, foster a sense of local pride and belonging, and building resilient and safe neighbourhoods.


Local Business


This provides support to create jobs and boost community cohesion, promote networking and collaboration and increase private sector investment in growth-enhancing activities.


People and Skills


This is designed to boost core skills and support adults to progress in life and work, with targeted offers, which respond to local needs and for adults with no or low-level qualifications, and support those from disadvantaged backgrounds.


While two of the priorities represent: investment in infrastructure, support for business and investment in communities and place, the ‘people and skills’ strand will attempt to boost core skills and involve funding for education, training and employment programmes that help people develop the skills they need to succeed in the job market.


Strangely, while ESF projects, which did this previously will all be pretty much wrapped up at the end of March 2023, and the People and Skills priority wasn’t scheduled to start until April 2024.


Avid watchers of social media and political news feeds will have seen that a decision was taken by the Government in late March to allow activity to start within this priority from April 2023.


UKSPF


This means that slightly longer-term activity is has been brought forward to the ‘here and now’.


My advice to companies who are interested in getting involved in UKSPF tendering is to start to engage with organisations and local authorities they want to do business with. For example, in my home county of Leicestershire, that would be the likes of Blaby, Charnwood, Harborough and Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Councils who can all manage their own programmes under the UKSPF.


Those interested organisations will need to understand what they can do and what the local authorities want to do.


When that process has been completed, contact SCLO if you need help and support with the tendering and process activity that ensues.




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