Update on the Shared Prosperity Fund
Derek Walker shares an update on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund from UK Government including priorities for funding.
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Details are starting to emerge of the Shared Prosperity Fund, which will be one of the funds that replaces EU funding. Wales benefited significantly from EU funding. Therefore it is important the new fund meets the needs of Welsh communities and organisations are ready to bid when the funding opens for applications.
So, what do we know so far?
We know the Fund will operate UK-wide, using the new financial assistance powers in the UK Internal Market Bill. It looks unlikely that the Welsh Government will be involved in delivery of the Fund. Funding will flow from Westminster directly to eligible organisations. This is a big shift as we have been used to Welsh Government taking the lead in EU programmes over the last twenty years
The Fund will target places most in need across the UK, such as ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and rural and coastal communities. The second part of the fund will target people most in need through bespoke employment and skills programmes.
The Fund will prioritise activities in the following categories:
- investment in people and skills tailored to local needs, such as work-based training, supplementing and tailoring national programmes (e.g. the adult education budget); and other local support (e.g. 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 including to support innovation, green and tech adoption, tailored to local needs.
We do not yet know the size of the Shared Prosperity Fund. That figure will be agreed in the next Spending review. The UK Government has previously pledged that Wales will not lose out compared to the total funding it received from the EU.
With the Levelling Up Fund, a parallel fund that focuses on capital programmes, the UK Government has stated that in the first round of funding Wales will receive at least 5% of the total pot. It is not clear if the same approach will apply to the Shared Prosperity Fund. Whether this means Wales loses out compared to EU funding arrangements will depend on the size of the pot, as Wales received comparatively more than other parts of the UK from EU funding as allocation was decided based on need.
We have previously set out our thoughts on the Shared Prosperity Fund here. We set out how we believe that Wales should not receive any less than it currently receives from European Structural Funds. We also argued that multi annual funding should continue as this allows organisations to focus on delivery and gives organisations more funding stability.
There is a lot still to be decided, which means there is an opportunity to influence the shape of the Fund. UK Government are planning further consultation sessions over the summer, and we will share details of those sessions as they become available.