The government has pledged that the long-awaited UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be worth an average of about £1.5bn a year – but might not be available until 2022.
Papers released as part of the Spending Review yesterday said that the UKSPF, which will replace EU funding for communities and charities, will at least match comparative funding from EU sources. The voluntary sector typically receives about £500m of such funds each year.
The planned fund will target the places most in need across the UK, the Treasury document said, including ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and rural and coastal communities, and “help to level up and create opportunity across the UK for people and places”.
The paper said: “It will support people and communities, opening up new opportunities and spurring regeneration and innovation.”
The scheme will provide support in areas including investment in employment and skills training, cultural and sporting facilities, and community-owned assets.
But it is not expected to be up and running until at least 2022, the paper indicated.
“To help local areas prepare over 2021/22 for the introduction of the UKSPF, the government will provide additional UK-wide funding to support communities to pilot programmes and new approaches,” it said.
More precise details about the fund are not expected to be published until the spring.
Paul Winyward, policy manager at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said he was pleased to see more details on the “fabled fund”, but significant questions remained.
“Not least: what cut of the UKSPF will go to marginalised communities and what role will charities play in the pilot schemes?
“The sector will be eagerly awaiting the release of details on the UKSPF and the new £4bn Levelling Up Fund next year.”
Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of Charity Finance Group, said: “While the UK Shared Prosperity Fund made an appearance, full details will only emerge in the spring, a good few months after our departure from the EU, which is unfortunate.”
Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive of Power to Change, said: “The UK Shared Prosperity Fund’s focus on community-owned assets and civic infrastructure – which will be vital in driving local economic development – is a very welcome step.
“However, Power to Change will be on hand to use our community ownership expertise to help guide government on the design and delivery of the UKSPF so that it works for communities.”