Councillor Flunder – Portfolio Holder for Tourism and Regeneration, introduced a report on the preparation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund Investment Plan and gave thanks to all those that had taken time to assist with this bid.
The UK government Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUPHC) had launched the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) which succeeded the European Union structural funds (ERDF and ESF).
The primary goal of the UKSPF was to build pride in place and increase life chances across the UK. There were three UKSPF investment priorities:-
· Communities and place;
· Supporting local business; and
· People and skills (from 2024/25 unless a voluntary/community sector project whose European Social Fund funding is due to end sooner).
A visual representation of the broad priorities and links to the Levelling Up agenda was shown in Appendix 1 of the report.
An allocation of funding had been made to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council against which the Council has to deliver agreed interventions and outcomes.
In order to be able to draw down the allocation, an Investment Plan must be submitted to DLUPHC by 1st August 2022 agreed by the Leader, the Chief Executive and the Section 151 Officer.
A webinar was planned for 15th July to which a wide range of stakeholders were invited to find out more about the fund.
Some members had reservations around the plans being achievable due to the limited time scales attached to the Fund and the amount of influence members would have in their wards. The Panel was assured that at this stage it was an outline plan, views were being sought from a range of stakeholders and further consultation would be carried out. Councillor Flunder encouraged members to contact him should they have suggestions or questions.
Due to the detail and layout of the information contained within the report, some members found the documents difficult to read on the iPad.
A suggestion was made for opportunities for cross border working to be explored. In response to a query around capital and revenue costs, it was explained that the capital elements were low and targeted to delivering revenue programmes which were identified by each council. The capital element of 10% was across the whole allocation. However, some projects could be allocated more capital funding but would need to be justified.
The level of risk was queried should the Council not receive the funding and it was explained that the UKSPF was not a competitive bidding process. Each council had an amount of funding allocated, had to provide an outline investment plan apportioned to each intervention and would be required to demonstrate governance around each of its programmes.
Assurance was given by Cabinet members that the Council would do its utmost to spend the full allocation of funding. There may be some risk to the projects not being completed within the associated time frame.
Members were reminded of the webinar due to be held on 15 July 2022.
DECIDED: The Panel NOTED progress on the preparation of the UKSPF Investment Plansubmission to ensure that local priorities were represented where they would deliver some of the required interventions, outputs and outcomes.