£220m for Shared Prosperity Fund

The chancellor has announced that £220m will be allocated in 2021-22 to help local areas prepare for the introduction of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. This falls far short of the £1.5bn currently received through European structural funding though the Chancellor has said that spending will eventually be ramped up to match European funding levels. The voluntary sector typically receives about £500m of such funds each year. 

The UKSPF will replace European Union structural funding following the UK’s departure from the EU. The withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU keeps structural funding until the end of 2020, after which funding that has already been agreed will continue to be paid, but no more applications for funding can be made.

Outlining the spending review today, Rishi Sunak told MPs that the whole of the UK will benefit from the UKSPF, and the government “will ramp up funding so that total domestic UK-wide funding will at least match EU receipts, on average reaching around £1.5bn a year”.

He added: “To help local areas prepare for the introduction of the UKSPF, next year we will provide funding for communities to pilot programmes and new approaches.”

The government will also accelerate four city and growth deals in Scotland. The Welsh and Scottish Governments have made complaints about a lack of consultation on the UKSPF which was first announced back in 2017.

A Treasury spending review document shows that £220m will be provided for the pilot programmes and new approaches, and further details of this funding will be set out in the new year.

The document outlines two portions of the UKSPF. The first will target “places most in need across the UK, such as ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and rural and coastal communities”, and prioritise:

  • investment in people, through initiatives such as work-based training and other local support such as for early years
  • investment in communities and place, “including cultural and sporting facilities, civic, green and rural infrastructure, community-owned assets, neighbourhood and housing improvements, town centre and transport improvements and digital connectivity”
  • investment for local business, which includes support for “innovation, green and tech adoption, tailored to local needs”.

The funding profile for this portion of the fund will be set out at the next spending review.

A second portion of the UKSPF will be targeted at “people most in need through bespoke employment and skills programmes that are tailored to local need”. The Treasury document said this would “support improved employment outcomes for those in and out of work in specific cohorts of people who face labour market barriers”.

Further details of the UKSPF will be set out in a “UK-wide investment framework” which is due to be published in the spring.