Posted 26 June 2023
Update on UK government successor funding to EU structural funds
Community Renewal Fund
Community Renewal Funding worth £12M in Northern Ireland. This was announced by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove in November 2021 and was designed “to help people into work, boost productivity and grow local economies,”. In effect, this was to be a precursor to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund but strangely, the UK Government insisted it was not to be considered as a pilot scheme for UKSPF. More detail on the Community Renewal Fund in NI and a list of recipient projects can be viewed here.
Levelling Up Fund
The Levelling Up Fund was also launched and two rounds of Levelling Up Funding have been opened. The Fund Prospectus states:
(The Fund)“is designed to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK. The £4.8 billion fund will support town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets.” (Note that the £4.8 billion referred to is the whole fund across the UK)
The Levelling Up Fund Round 2 prospectus can be read here
Some NI politicians criticised the LUF back in August when it emerged that NI had received the lowest share of the fund out of the devolved nations with £49M bids funded in the first round which was just 2.9% of the total. For comparison Scotland received £172M representing 10.1% of the total and Wales received £121M, 7.2% of the total. Click here for Belfast Telegraph article on political reaction. 11 bids from NI were successful and information on all the successful LUF bids across the UK can be accessed here. The LUF second round closed for bids in July 2022 and successful bidders were to be announced in Autumn 2022 but the announcement of successful bids appears to have been delayed.
The Community Ownership Fund
The Community Ownership Fund was also launched in 2021. Worth £150M across the UK the Fund was set up to support community groups to take ownership of assets and amenities at risk of being lost. Voluntary and community groups can bid for match funding to acquire important assets and run them for the benefit of the local community. Read the Community Ownership prospectus here
Its unclear how (or if) the learning from delivery of the first round of the LUF or CRF or Community Ownership Fund has influenced development of the UKSPF in NI. We are unaware if these programmes were evaluated overall for impact or outcomes. If evaluation was undertaken its unclear how the Department Levelling Up Housing and Communities applied the lessons to the next phase of programmes.
Photo by Matthew Smith on Unsplash