The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) is the UK government’s replacement for the European Social Fund. The estimated pot is £2.6 billion and is allegedly the largest ‘levelling up’ fund yet to be allocated. In contrast to other funding it is not focussed on hard infrastructure but is also inclusive of Social programmes. This means that organisations running programmes focused on skills, employment and social exclusion are now also in scope. However, the government has announced that this additional funding will not be available until 2024. The caveat is that existing EU funded programmes could receive special dispensation if they are in danger of ending prior to that date.
The UKSPF plans are currently being drafted but lead authorities only have until August 1st to draft them and to create credible three-year plans, demonstrating partnerships to unlock their funding and to prove they can ‘go far’.
Partnerships will be the key to leveraging support for organisations to engage in SPF plans. Lead authorities will need to demonstrate knowledge and the engagement of local partners, utilising the sector’s wealth of experience. Sector leaders now need to ensure that local engagement is high and they are engaging with local lead authorities.
In response to the UKSPF prospectus, a group of NCVO coalition members produced a set of principles for partnership working. The principles are intended to support voluntary and specialist organisations to proactively work with the lead authority in their area(s) and be part of the investment planning process. NCVO is sharing this with all CVSs in England to encourage them and their members to engage with their lead authorities on UKSPF planning.
ERSA have also released significant UKSPF guidance and information, 3SC engages with ERSA on a regular basis and would recommend that all organisations delivering employment programmes do so too.
Here are some immediate steps that can be followed in order to put your organisation in the best possible position to secure UKSPF funding:
Make yourself known to your local lead authority/authorities
- The full list of lead local authorities can be found here.
- The Investment Plan submission window is open from 30 June to 1 August 2022. This is when lead local authorities will submit requests for the funding window: April 2022 to March 2025.
- In England, places will be able to select people and skills interventions from 2024-2025 onwards, or earlier where they meet the voluntary sector considerations outlined here.
- In recognition of their specific circumstances, places in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be able to select interventions from the people and skills investment priority from 2022-2023.
- Make sure that local authorities know about the important work you do and when your current European-funded projects end.
- Make your case to be included in Investment Plan submissions, using these interventions, outputs and indicators.
Get involved in Local Partnership Groups
- Places should establish or designate a local partnership group to consult when developing their investment plan.
- By getting involved in local partnership groups, you will be able to make your case for funding heard by those who will be submitting investment plans.
- Between April and May 2022, engagement sessions with local authorities and other local partners will take place to support the investment plan process.
Seek an active interest in the Investment Planning stage.
Don’t let your work go unnoticed!
- Accessing the UK Shared Prosperity Fund relies on local authorities understanding the work you do and the people you support.
- Be proactive – now is the time to make yourselves heard.
- Specifically evidence the priorities/challenges of local people.
Contact people in your local areas who can help influence for you:
- Local press;
- Local Councils for Voluntary Service.
Lastly, we would encourage everyone interested to contact their Local Authority CEO’s offering to help with investment and development plans. Offers should be bespoke and emphasise what can be developed in community in years 1 and 2 in partnership with the Local Authorities. Please don’t forget to liaise with us as we all work together to ensure the UKSPF is a true community success across the UK.
Gareth Snaith, Contract Performance Manager, 3SC