UKSPF good news, or is it?
As most of you will know the UK Shared Prosperity Funding (UKSPF) is entering its second year with most Lancashire districts delivering against their agreed investment Plans. Initially, when UKSPF was launched Skills funding had not been allocated until year 3, commencing April 2024/25. This is a having a huge impact on people in our communities needing support as projects previously funded through the European Programmes draw to a close. Selnet and partners have delivered three Building Better Opportunities projects since 2016 supporting people really needing help to remove barriers and improve their skills to get into work. We are all really proud of what we have achieved. We’ve reached over 9000 Lancashire residents and transformed the lives of many. These projects all end on 31st March 2023.
After considerable lobbing by Elizabeth Taylor CEO at ERSA https://ersa.org.uk/person/elizabeth-taylor/ and many of us delivering support in the skills and employment arena who recognise that the need for support has increased significantly for local people – there has been a U-turn by Government.
It was announced on Friday 17th March that Government will now allow spending on people and skills from April 2023. This means lead local authorities can now allocate UKSPF funding to people and skills interventions form the 1st April this year (See full announcement).
Selnet’s CEO, Liz Tapner MBE had the opportunity to speak to The Guardian to report on Selnet’s situation alongside others leading projects previously funded through the European Programme ESF:
Selnet are members of Social Enterprise UK and the Employment and Related Services Association, ERSA, and work closely with Network for Europe; due to Covid, we postponed our original sector-wide discussions that were to be held on 1th April 2020, and kept a watchful eye on issues associated with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UK-SPF) – we continue to keep members up to date how ESIF funding will be replaced following Brexit, and are actively engaging decision makers/promoting the experience and expertise of our sector:
Thursday 28th April 2022: Our latest online meeting – click here for powerpoint presentation
The Prospectus for UK Shared Prosperity Fund was finally revealed on 13th April, along with the Prospectus for Multiply, Provisional Allocations, proposed Interventions (fifty-one!). Investment Plans drawn up by local partnerships to be submitted by Lead Local Authorities from 30th June.
At the meeting Andy Churchill took us through the most recent information, this is a lot to read and lots to understand as structural funds change dramatically!
The meeting discussed how:
- Areas without a Combined Authority may have to work with a variety of Local Authorities.
- Differences between Multiply (run by DfE) and the core UKSPF (run by MLUHC).
- And how this is much wider than old style ESF.
England doesn’t fund ESF style training under SPF until 2024/5, but Local Partnerships could allocate funding to support organisations that would expect to deliver in 2024/5 and are faced with an ESF cliff edge.
The activities fundable through SPF are the kind that third sector organisations understand and can deliver well. They are place based and need local partnerships and local knowledge. This needs third sector organisations in an area to get together and draft their vision to present to their local authority, based on our track records, knowledge of the area, and capacity to innovate. We need to solve local problems, to Level Up. We must work together.
Post meeting resources:
- UK-SPF English Links
- UKSPF Press Release
- SPF Prospectus
- UKSPF Allocation
- UKSPF AllocEnglandRegNW
- The 51 Interventions
Our next meeting is being held on Thursday 26th May at 10.30am. Please join us to get involved in the discussions.
10th December 2021: Third online meeting – click here for powerpoint presentation by Andy Churchill
Since the last meeting in September, there have been the announcements of the Community Renewal Fund, and there have been continuing attempts by a variety of organisations to find out what is proposed for UK-ESF. The Levelling Up Paper might also be announced mid-December, so we have plenty to cover.
As part of the agenda, we will welcome members of the group to feed into an open discussion with their knowledge, activity, issues, or concerns on a local footing.
It is important going forward we prepare for the change and give everyone an opportunity to discuss how we can learn from experience to develop an effective and efficient fund.
Key insight will be highlighted across key stakeholders to enhance our sector’s impact.
30th September 2021: Second online meeting – click here for minutes and actions
Following the successful event in August, many of those present wanted to meet again to look at what the £1.5bn UK-Shared Prosperity Fund could deliver at a local level, and how as a Sector could help to shape and influence this Fund. Presentations included:
- How the UKSPF can support and impact on poverty: Sue Ormiston, EU Programme Manager at the National Lottery Community Fund
- How the UKSPF can support and impact on health: Adrian Leather, CEO of the Charity Active Lancashire, and a Non-Executive Director at Morecambe Bay Hospital Trust.
- How the UKSPF can support and impact on climate change: Chris Coates, Director, Halton Mill Low Carbon Workspace
25th August 2021: First online meeting held – click here for minutes and actions
The meeting was attended by more than 50 enthusiastic VCSE leaders looking to find out more about future resources to replace the current European Structural Investment Funds; for the past seven years these have enabled so many organisations to support inclusion, skills development, and progression for people in our communities with complex needs.
Chaired by Ann Marie Wrigley (Network for Europe), we brought VCSE sector representatives together to learn the latest on the UK-Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), enable discussions and collate this sector’s key messages, concerns and opportunities. Those attending expressed concern about the changing environment, the void in information and increases in local needs. As part of the event agenda, we heard updates from:
- Andy Churchill of Network for Europe on Community Renewal Fund, Community Ownership Fund, UK-Shared Prosperity Fund and Local actions and the Third Sector
- Sally Yeoman at Halton & St Helens VCA: Partnership and what worked with CRF
- Jessica Williams, Wales CVA: Lessons from Wales, Influencing and working with the UK Government.
Please send any key questions regarding UKSPF to firstname.lastname@example.org to enable all key issues to be addressed in this meeting.
While we are primarily hoping for third sector organisations in North West England to join the meeting, we are happy to include others across the UK who want to take part.
Now that the UK has left the EU, ESIF funding will cease. In order to replace it, the Government pledged to set up a Shared Prosperity Fund to “reduce inequalities between communities”.
At the beginning of 2020 we were organising a sector-wide event ‘Beyond the EU Projects: What Next for Lancashire?” bringing specialist speakers together with our VCSE sector for the most current picture on the UK-SPF and to help prepare for anticipated consultations. This event was postponed in response to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Our sector is deeply rooted within our communities and is at the forefront of solutions to the crisis; they are on the health and social care front line and providing crucial community support to the most vulnerable.
– Selnet CEO Liz Tapner
Although the budget is cancelled due to the uncertainty caused by Covid, the Comprehensive Spending Review seems to be going ahead before the end of this year.
This could include the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, to replace the approximately €13bn (£11.7bn) we would have received from Europe over the next seven years for ESF and ERDF.
The open consultation that we had been promised does not appear to be taking place. Without the proper involvement of the Partners in discussions and the creation of the new fund, it will not be efficient or effective.
NCVO will shortly be publishing an updated paper on UK-SPF, calling for a fund designed around places and needs – we will keep members informed on this.
NCVO and ERSA
In July 2019, the national Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and Employment-Related Services Association (ERSA), umbrella bodies representing charities, sent a letter to the new Prime Minister urging him to confirm that:
- The Shared Prosperity Fund would provide support for disadvantaged groups and communities;
- Funding for employment and skills support would not fall below the level provided by the European Social Fund; and
- There would be no gap between the end of EU funding and the start of funding from the Shared Prosperity Fund. The letter was co-signed by 100 chief executives of charities and businesses in the UK.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
In October 2018, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (a social policy research charity focusing on poverty) published a report on Designing a Shared Prosperity Fund, which came to the following conclusions:
- The Fund should match the current level of EU structural fund spending and be planned across multiple years;
- It should be focused on ‘inclusive growth’ and “allocated according to the employment rate and earnings of the least well off”;
- Funding should be allocated across the UK based on need rather than on the Barnett formula;
- Revenue and capital streams should both come from a single ‘pot’ of funding.
VCSE, Covid and policy
Leaders of Manchester-based charities have shared their experiences of the Covid-19 crisis and their thoughts for the future in a new report produced by Macc, Manchester’s local voluntary and community sector support organisation.
“Invest in a crucial sector or risk losing it”
No Going Back is from 22 Manchester third sector leaders on the response of VCSE organisations to Covid, and highlights the determination, passion and wealth of policy ideas from our sector.
‘Getting Brexit Done’
The UK left the European Union at the end of January, and we are in the Transition Period, so we do not influence EU policy, but are bound by the rules.
We still have funding – for example for ESF and ERDF. The UK failed to ask for an extension at end June, so the Transition Period ends on 31st December 2020.
The ninth and final round of the planned trade talks has finished with no agreement. Some further negotiations will take place over the next few weeks, so we will either have no deal, or have a thin deal.
“Third sector organisations should be preparing for some disruptions”
The agreement needs to be by late October/early November in order to be ratified by the Member States, and the European Parliament, so we are almost out of time. None of this has been helped by the UK saying it could break international law, which was met with disbelief across Europe.
The UK has some preparations for the extra bureaucracy and transport delays expected from January, and third sector organisations should be preparing for some disruptions.
- Conservative Manifesto commitment to UK-SPF: https://www.conservatives.com/our-commitments/uk-shared-prosperity-fund
- House of Commons Research Briefing on the UK-SPF: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8527/ (updated 22nd May 2020)
- ERSA ‘Sharing Prosperity: Building Better Employment Support for the UK’ (November 2019) https://ersa.org.uk/SharingProsperityFightingFund
- Institute for Fiscal Studies: ‘Sharing prosperity? Options and issues for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund’ (July 2020) https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/14936
- Network for Europe update (6th October 2020) download the PDF