YEAR 1 APPLICATIONS TO THE SHARED PROSPERITY FUND, AND A GENERAL UPDATE REGARDING THE PROCESS AND TIMESCALES FOR FUTURE APPLICATION ROUNDS
To consider a report by Councillor Jason McLellan, Leader and Lead Member for Economic Growth and Tackling Deprivation (copy enclosed) seeking Cabinet approval of the applications to the Shared Prosperity Fund as recommended, and consideration of the information on processes and timescales for future applications and next steps.
(a) approves the applications
as detailed in Appendix A to the report,
based on the recommendations from the Core Partnership Group, and
(b) notes the information on processes and timescales for future applications as detailed in Appendix B to the report and next steps.
Councillor Jason McLellan
presented the report seeking Cabinet approval of the applications to the Shared
Prosperity Fund as recommended, and consideration of the information on
processes and timescales for future applications and next steps.
The Shared Prosperity Fund was
part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up suite of investment with £21.2m
available to Denbighshire communities between 2022 and March 2025 across three
investment priority themes (1) Communities and Place; (2) Supporting Local
Business, and (3) People and Skills.
The Interim Joint Head of Business Improvement and Modernisation detailed the application process for spending year 1 funding which had been restricted to local authority only due to the tight timescales for delivery and funding terms between UK Government and local authorities not yet being agreed, thereby carrying some financial risk. In line with guidance, a Partnership Group had been set up to advise on strategic fit and deliverability, and projects recommended to receive funding had been detailed in Appendix A to the report with a breakdown of the allocation summary which equated to an underspend of almost £604k in 2022/23. That underspend could be reprofiled for years 2 and 3 and therefore would not be lost.
The Head of Customers, Communications and Marketing guided Cabinet through the process and timelines for further invitations to apply for funding as outlined in Appendix B to the report together with any risks and proposed mitigations. It was recognised that timescales were challenging and guidance was being issued beforehand to give prospective bidders time to start developing their bids prior to opening invitations for funding of £250k and above, to include bids to host Key Funds (through which smaller projects would be delivered) by the end of January, with a closing date of 24 February for stage 1 applications. The Partnership Group would review applications and make recommendations to Cabinet.
The Leader commended the recommended projects which were wide ranging in nature and would make a real difference to people across the county. In welcoming the report and investment opportunities, Cabinet elaborated on the value of specific projects within communities and different sectors of society, and the wealth of benefits they would bring, resulting in a real and positive impact in those areas, particularly with regard to tackling deprivation and improving wellbeing.
The following points were raised during the ensuing debate –
· technical discussions relating to memorandums of understanding between Gwynedd Council, who were leading on behalf of the region, and UK Government were ongoing but productive. It was important funding could be drawn down efficiently whilst also ensuring robust governance and monitoring arrangements were in place; there was no risk to project spend or delivery
· discussions with external partners relating to hosting Key Funds to ensure funding was available for smaller projects across the county were also ongoing, and the intention was to report back thereon to Cabinet the following month
· the prioritisation process for projects was discussed and it was noted that Denbighshire’s priorities had been included in the Regional Investment Plan with further work undertaken locally and a thematic approach in line with the Corporate Plan to ensure bids were invited in line with those corporate priorities
· whilst year 1 funding had been restricted to the local authority due to timescales and financial risk, years 2 and 3 would also be opened up to external bidders and there would be a mix of internal and external applications considered by the Partnership Group with subsequent project recommendations to Cabinet; it was likely that some projects benefitting from year 1 funding would also submit bids for years 2 and 3 to continue and/or further progress the project in future years
· the need for full member engagement in the process was highlighted and Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts was keen for Member Area Groups (MAGs) to be involved, noting also there would likely be projects which could be replicated or relevant across different areas. The requirement for a robust needs and evidenced based methodology for prioritisation was also highlighted in order to respond to local need across the county and provide transparency in decision making linked to corporate priorities and corporate plan themes. Officers welcomed local member input and confirmed a member update was imminent
· officers elaborated on the support available to help applicants prepare bids and ensure effective project delivery, in particular the role of the Senior Leadership Team in engaging with local authority applications and supporting MAGs in that process. It was considered the open application bids for over £250k would be from organisations well-resourced in that regard and early conversations had been held with likely candidates on the process with further work around due diligence. In terms of projects under £250k, funding would be available in those Key Funds to provide support for applicants and project delivery
· for prospective applicants for shared prosperity funding it was important to ascertain whether potential projects related to the investment priority themes and met the necessary criteria in that regard. However, the council wanted to engage and work closely with communities and community organisations to help applicants draw down appropriate and relevant funding, whether shared prosperity funding or other funding streams, in order to facilitate and maximise funding opportunities and successful project delivery across the county
· further details relating to the role of the Partnership Group was provided based on the UK guidance which included both core and advisory members to ensure a wide variety of organisations informed deliberations and recommendations to Cabinet. It was agreed that an overview of all applications should be presented to Cabinet, not just those projects recommended by the Partnership Group.
(a) approves the applications
as detailed in Appendix A to the report, based on the recommendations from the
Core Partnership Group, and
(b) notes the information on
processes and timescales for future applications as detailed in Appendix B to
the report and next steps.
- SHARED PROSPERITY FUND, item 5. PDF 496 KB
- SPF Year 1 bids overview App A, item 5. PDF 235 KB
- SPF - App B, item 5. PDF 102 KB