Warrington has set out its vision for supporting communities, growing business and improving the skills of local people, as part of a key government investment programme.
The council has submitted its investment plans for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). The fund is an important part of the government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda and a significant component of its support for places across the UK.
Launched in April 2022, the UKSPF is the successor programme to the EU Structural Funds programmes. It will provide £2.6 billion of core funding for local investment by March 2025, along with an additional £559m of funding towards an adult numeracy programme known as ‘Multiply’, which will be overseen by the Department for Education.
All areas of the UK will receive an allocation from the fund via a funding formula rather than a competition, but there must be robust investment plans in place, in order to receive the funding.
Warrington’s Core Funding allocation for the three-year programme is just under £6.5m, with the town also allocated £916,000 for the three-year Multiply programme.
The Core Programme has three Investment Priorities – Communities and Place, Supporting Local Business and People and Skills – over which each council has flexibility to decide its own allocations. Councils will receive their allocation directly and are the named accountable body for managing the UKSPF spend and monitoring in their area.
While Warrington has now submitted its investment plans for the funding, a list of specific projects has not yet been confirmed. However, areas of priority being looked at could include:
Communities and place
• Improvements to Warrington Town Centre, including tackling anti-social behaviour
• Improvements to green spaces.
• More culture and arts, including in community locations
• Supporting volunteering and community-led initiatives
• Supporting people and community organisations to become more digitally connected
Supporting local business
• Help for start-up and growing businesses
• Advice on environmental sustainability and decarbonisation
• Enabling growth in the visitor economy, including visitor attractions, events, retail and hospitality
• Supporting SMEs with the adoption of digital technologies
• Support with key business challenges, such as recruitment
People and skills
• Supporting unemployed or economically inactive residents to access work
• Support with basic skills
• Growth in key areas where skills gaps have been identified, including ‘green’ skills and digital skills
Warrington Borough Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for finance, Cllr Cathy Mitchell, said: “The UKSPF gives us the opportunity to deliver a range of projects which support our ambitions for stronger, more inclusive communities, a thriving business sector and a local population that is equipped with the skills it needs to succeed.
“Once our investment plans are approved by the government, we are looking forward to engaging with local partners, businesses and community groups, to help us refine our plans and bring forward some really impactful projects which create many new opportunities for people in Warrington.”