This report is due to be pre-scrutinised at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee scheduled to take place on 21st July 2022. Any recommendations arising from the Committee’s debate in respect of this item will be reported in a supplementary pack for the consideration of the Executive Committee.
The Chief Executive presented a report on the subject of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund for Members’ consideration.
The UK Shared Prosperity Fund was part of the Government’s Levelling Up programme and replaced the EU Structural Fund. There were three key pillars in the UK Shared Prosperity Fund:
· Communities and Place
· Supporting Local Business
· People and Skills
There were also up to 41 interventions that had been identified by the Government that Councils could address in spending the funds. Councils were not obliged to link all of the projects that received funding in the local area to all of the interventions available. Instead, Officers had selected those interventions considered most likely to meet the needs of local communities in the Borough.
Funding had been allocated over a three-year period, from 2022/23 to 2024/25, in the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The amount of funding available over the course of these three years increased from £303,647 in 2022/23 to £1.591 million in 2024/25. In total, £2.5 million had been allocated to Redditch over the three years.
The Council had consulted with local partner organisations, to review how the funding allocated to Redditch should be spent. The funding allocated to Redditch was guaranteed to be received. However, the Council needed to submit an Investment Plan to the Government detailing how this funding would be spent. As part of the proposals detailed in the plan, the Council needed to outline how the funding would be allocated to each of the three key pillars of the programme. In Redditch, it had been decided, based on the outcomes of consultation and local knowledge, that 40 per cent of the funds should be allocated to Communities and Place and 30 per cent each to Supporting Local Business and People and Skills respectively. The Government had subsequently indicated that Councils would be able to vary the allocation of funding to each of these pillars by up to 30 per cent to ensure that there was flexibility built into the scheme.
Local authorities could allocate a proportion of the funding to administering the scheme. In a context in which there were capacity issues within local government, officers were proposing that a small amount of the funding should be allocated to the administrative process.
Following the presentation of the report, Members discussed the interventions that had been highlighted in the report for the delivery of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund programme in Redditch. Questions were raised about the potential for perceptions of attractions to be added to the list of interventions selected locally, taking into account recent successful events in the town centre. Members were advised that events and attractions in the town centre would be supported by the work of the Redditch Business Improvement District (BID). Work on investing in attractions would include allocating support to cultural and artistic venues. Whilst this had not been included in the current round of interventions, there would be scope to review this at a later date if considered to be necessary.
Reference was made to the need for levelling up work to be undertaken in parts of the Borough, particularly in the district centres. Members commented that this funding would help to support communities living in these parts of the Borough.
Members welcomed the inclusion of green skills in the interventions that had been selected for Redditch. Given the significant number of trees in the Borough, Members suggested that there was the potential for skills to be developed in green industries and for knowledge to be embedded in the local economy.
During consideration of this item, the Chair commented that the report had been pre-scrutinised at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 21st July 2022. There had been a detailed debate of the subject at the meeting and many questions had been raised about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund as part of these discussions. At the end of their debate, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had endorsed the recommendations detailed in the report. The Committee was thanked for their hard work in scrutinising the proposals.
1) the Investment Plan be approved for submission to the UK Government;
2) authority to finalise the Investment plan be delegated to the Head of North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration following consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Regeneration and Strategic Partnerships and in light of advice from the Local Partnership Board;
3) authority to develop projects to deliver the outcomes contained in the investment plan be delegated to the Head of North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration following consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Regeneration and Strategic Partnerships and in light of advice from the Local Partnership Board; and
4) the Medium Term Financial Strategy is amended to include the UK Shared Prosperity Fund Allocation when next reviewed.