The Conservative Party will give £500m of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to help disadvantaged people and maintain funding levels in each of the UK’s four nations, according to the party’s manifesto for the forthcoming general election.
In the manifesto, which was launched on Sunday in Telford, the party says that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will replace EU funding for a number of sectors including charities, would ensure that a significant proportion is reserved for giving "disadvantaged people the skills they need to make a success of life".
The party said that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund needed to be better targeted at the UK’s specific needs, "but at a minimum match the size of those funds" in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The fund was announced under Theresa May’s government and is due to come into force at the end of 2020, but details on how the fund will work or the amount of money available have so far been scarce.
An update was expected on the fund before the end of 2019, but was postponed because of the general election.
The manifesto says: "We have already announced a UK Shared Prosperity Fund to ensure that the people of the UK do not lose out from the withdrawal of EU funding (which was, of course, only a small part of the billions of pounds we were contributing), and to replace the EU programme with one that is fairer and better tailored to our economy.
"And we will ensure that £500m of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is used to give disadvantaged people the skills they need to make a success of life."
The party also announced a £150m Community Ownership Fund, which would allow communities to take over local assets or civic organisations that are under threat, such as pubs, post offices or local football clubs.
The manifesto commits the party to using government procurement to support innovation, and reiterates support for the role charities play in delivering public services.
"We will use government procurement to support new ideas and new companies," the manifesto says.
"We will continue to support charities which have helped to transform our public services."
Civic infrastructure such as libraries and museums will get a £250m boost, the manifesto says, and a Cultural Investment Fund will be created to "support activities, traditions and events that bring communities together".
It promises that £500m will be spent on new youth clubs and services, that current international aid spending will be maintained and that a Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will take place in 2022 to coincide with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The manifesto also explicitly backs the charity sector’s role in the country and within communities, but fails to include concrete promises on how the sector as a whole will be supported should the Conservatives win a majority on 12 December.
"We stand for those who give their time to help others – the charities, community groups and volunteers who already do so much to make our country a better place," the manifesto says.
"We believe, in other words, that Britain is a great country – the greatest place on earth. Together, we can make it greater still."