November 9, 2021
The Scottish Government has long wanted to conflate its many funding streams to the community sector into a more coherent process so that communities can avoid having to apply multiple times to essentially the same funder. While some progress has undoubtedly been achieved – the relaunch of Investing in Communities Fund next Spring being an example – it’s clear there’s still some way to go. However, with the UK Government now approaching communities directly with offers of very substantial funding, one can’t help thinking that the goal of funding coherence is being sacrificed on the altar of constitutional politics.
The UK government is committed to levelling up across the whole of the United Kingdom to ensure that no community is left behind, particularly as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is why we are now making the biggest changes to the way we support local economic growth in a decade, in order to regenerate our town centres and high streets, support individuals into employment, improve local transport links and invest in local culture, while giving communities a stronger voice to take over cherished local assets that might otherwise be lost.
This will involve the UK government decentralising power and working more directly with local partners and communities across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, who are best placed to understand the needs of their local areas and more closely aligned to the local economic geographies to deliver quickly on the ground.
To support these objectives, the UK government has launched three new investment programmes to support communities right across the country. All share common challenges and opportunities, which the UK government is determined to address in collaboration with local partners. These new investment programmes are:
As we look towards the UK Shared Prosperity Fund next year, we are conscious of the need for an evolution of the way we support local economic growth so it can best support levelling up for the long term. The UK government will work with local partners throughout 2021 to develop an approach that delivers the infrastructure and regeneration priorities local leaders want to see in their area.
We will also be working with local businesses on the future role of Local Enterprise Partnerships. We want to ensure local businesses have clear representation and support in their area, in order to drive the recovery. We will work with Local Enterprise Partnerships over the coming months, with a view to announcing more detailed plans ahead of summer recess. This will also include consideration of Local Enterprise Partnership geographies.
Later this year we will publish an Investment Framework for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – the replacement to European Union structural funds – which will commence in 2022.