Covid, Brexit and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund

Selnet are members of Social Enterprise UK and the Employment and Related Services Association, ERSA, and work closely with Network for Europe; we keep a watchful eye on issues associated with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UK-SPF) and will keep members up to date with the progress and implications of Brexit.

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

UK-SPF Consultation

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.

 

Read more

 

[23/10/20]

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