1. What is the UK Shared Prosperity Fund?
The UKSPF is a large programme of public funding intended to replace EU structural funds, such as the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund, after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
2. Who is leading the design of UKSPF?
Simon Clarke MP is the Minister of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and shall have day to day responsibility for taking forward the design and delivery of the UKSPF. He shall work closely with with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP who on 13th February 2020 became the Cabinet Minister in charge of Northern Powerhouse.
Until February 2020, Jake Berry MP was the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth and led on the design of the UKSPF. In this role, he championed the use of public funds to address regional inequalities and in December 2019 revealed that a "large chunk" of the UKSPF shall be dedicated to the North of England. This statement is consistent with other pledges from Boris Johnson's Government to rebalance the economy of the UK.
3. What is the value of the UKSPF?
The value of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund has yet to be published by the Government.
It is anticipated that the value of the UKSPF will be announced during the Comprehensive Spending Review in Autumn 2020.
The Conservative Party Manifesto from December 2019 states that the UKSPF will "at a minimum match the size of those [EU Structural Funds] in each nation".
4. What is the value of the EU Structural Funds which the UKSPF is designed to replace?
According to analysis from CPMR, had the UK remained in the European Union then the UK would have received an allocation of c. €13bn (£11.4bn) in respect of the European Regional Development Fund ("ERDF") and the European Social Fund ("ESF") for the period 2021 - 2027.
5. Will the UKSPF replace any other funds?
There is speculation that the UKSPF will also replace other Government regeneration funds, such as the Local Growth Fund. For this reason, there have been calls from public sector bodies to set the UKSPF budget at £4bn per year.
6. What are the aims of the UKSPF?
The Conservative Party Manifesto 2019 states that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund shall be:
The recent Manifesto commitments are consistent with a 2018 statement by James Brokenshire, then Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, who announced the UKSPF's aims are:
In England, is it expected that the UKSPF will be delivered by:
However the above has yet to be confirmed and there may be a role for other public sector bodies in delivering the UKSPF, including Local Government.
10. What kinds of projects shall the UKSPF support?
Although there has been speculation that the UKSPF will be focused upon clean energy research and development; green-collar jobs such as those connected to wind farms, it is more likely that local input will determine the types of projects supported, taking note of each Local Industrial Strategy.
The Conservative Party Manifesto from December 2019 includes a commitment that "£500 million of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is used to give disadvantaged people the skills they need to make a success of life."
The Conservative Party website states "The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be designed to make sure that it helps the most vulnerable. Targeted support will mean that disadvantaged individuals, such as a young person struggling with their mental health or an ex-offender released into the community, can have access to services that fill gaps in normal statutory provision to help them into work. This funding will allow organisations such as charities and other third-party bodies to deliver a wide range of support for people across the UK. This will be delivered on in conjunction and on top of existing skills programmes."
11. How will the UKSPF be allocated?
Although the Government has announced a "large chunk" of the UKSPF shall be allocated to the North of England, no further details are in the public domain at this time.
The EU Structural and Investment Funds are allocated on the basis of a complex formula taking account of population and economic performance of an area, hence statistically poorer regions received greater allocations.
The Institute for Public Policy Research has recommended that the UKSPF should be distributed using a range of economic well-being indicators, including measures such as GDP/person, disposable income levels and the regional human poverty index. IPPR regard this to be a broader and more accountable approach than used by EU structural funds.
In December 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to revise the rules governing public spending to take account of reducing inequality between northern and southern England, rather than simply promoting overall economic growth across the country. It is highly likely that a similar formula will be used to determine UKSPF allocation.
There has been speculation that in addition to regional allocations, part of the UKSPF may be awarded as a challenge fund, where applicants from any part of the UK may bid in for funding.
12. When is the UKSPF likely to be launched?
The UK government has guaranteed funding for projects under the EU Structural Funds until the end of 2020 and has stated that the UKSPF shall be the long term successor. Despite the EU Structural Funds coming to a close in December 2020, the UKSPF is only expected to be launched in April 2021.
13. When will there be a consultation on UKSPF?
The Government has announced that it shall consult on the UKSPF. However the consultation has been delayed on several occasions. The Local Government Association has criticised the impact of these delays on the ability of public bodies and other organisations make plans and put in place appropriate expertise and capacity to deliver outcomes for their communities.
The reason for the delay is explained in the report "Local Enterprise Partnerships: an update on progress" which states that the Government has "delayed a public consultation on the Fund’s future design and structure until it has more clarity about the terms on which the UK will leave the EU".
14. What actions can organisations take in respect of the UKSPF?
The UKSPF is likely to be one of the major regeneration funds of the next decade. The consultation is expected during 2020 and therefore organisations should take stock of their needs now and submit these during the consultation.
In the meantime, our UK Shared Prosperity Fund group on Linkedin provides a forum for those interested the UKSPF to discuss the fund in more detail and share the latest news.
Those looking to secure public funding at this time should note that Government Departments offer other funds such as the Future High Streets Fund, the Towns Fund and the exceptional Regional Growth Fund. There are also funds administered by non-departmental public bodies, such as Homes England's Local Authority Accelerated Construction Fund (LAAC) and Innovate UK's Smart Fund. In England, Local Enterprise Partnerships regionally administer public funding from the Local Growth Fund and Growth Deals, whilst Mayoral Combined Authorities also have their own programmes directed towards activities such as inward investment or business support.
The Scottish Government, Welsh Government and the Northern Irish Executive also have their own funds. Finally, it is still possible to access the UK's remaining European Structural and Investment Funds, such as ERDF and ESF. Each of the above funds has their own eligibility rules and conditions, but are also subject to standard compliance considerations such as State aid law.
DWF's specialist Public Sector law team has extensive experience of advising on all aspects of public funding, including working within the Central and Local Government. If you wish to discuss the UK Shared Prosperity Fund or any other aspect of public funding in more detail, please contact Jonathan Branton, Colin Murray, Alexander Rose or Bradley Martin.
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