Following a submission to the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund, East Suffolk Council has been allocated £2.75m which will be used to support high streets, local businesses, workforce and community skills development, as well as support for those struggling with the cost of living crisis.
In April 2022, the Government launched the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to support its Levelling Up agenda. The primary goal of the UKSPF is to build pride in place and increase life chances across the UK, focusing on communities and place, supporting local business, people and skills.
East Suffolk Council has been allocated £2.75m to invest across two and a half years (2022/23 - 2024/25) in initiatives that will address inequality and contribute to levelling up. The Council was required to submit an Investment Plan to the Government on how the funding allocation would be spent.
Additionally, East Suffolk Council has also been allocated a further £1.129m from the Government under the Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF), which is part of the UKSPF and aims to support small business and community infrastructure in rural areas. The Council will now submit an investment plan addendum by 30 November setting out how this additional funding will be allocated. Final approval for this element of funding is expected in the new year, with funded programmes to commence in April 2023.
Both funding allocations were accepted at a meeting of East Suffolk’s cabinet on Tuesday 1 November, subject to final Government approval on both the Investment Plan, which is expected shortly, and the addendum.
In a joint statement, Cllr Craig Rivett, East Suffolk’s Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Economic Development and Cllr Letitia Smith, cabinet member for Communities, Leisure and Tourism said: “Working with other Suffolk local authorities and partner organisations, this funding will allow us to provide a multi-year package of support for new and existing businesses, increase the opportunities for skills development and training to those most in need, reinvigorate our high streets and offer real help to East Suffolk residents who are struggling with the rising costs of food and energy.”
The East Suffolk Investment Plan contains a number of key programmes, based on new and existing schemes to be delivered either locally or collaboratively with other local authorities in Suffolk. These programmes are:
• East Suffolk High Street Improvement Programme - a three-year programme that will offer grants to improve high streets and town centres across the district.
• Using place to support the cost-of-living crisis: a three-year programme comprising two key projects; East Suffolk Community Food Network which will bring food producers, suppliers and community food projects together to address the cost-of-living crisis as well as reduce food waste, and East Suffolk Warm Rooms, which will see the creation of a network of warm rooms for those who are struggling to pay their home energy bills. The allocation will be combined with council funding to support community pantries, cooking classes and a field-to-fork grant scheme to enable community growing spaces.
• Suffolk business support programme: a free fully-funded business support programme covering the whole of Suffolk providing free advice and a small grants scheme to support business growth.
• Business start-up programme: training packages designed for both new enterprises and those seeking self-employment across East Suffolk.
• East Suffolk Small Business Move to Net Zero grant scheme: a small business grant scheme that all sectors can access to help them make net zero adaptions.
• East Suffolk capital business and workforce skills grant programme: a grant programme for communities, education providers and business centres that have training spaces that need to be upgraded in line with local skills needs.
• Suffolk wide skills programme: focusing on youth participation, adult unemployment, apprenticeship support and workforce development.
• East Suffolk local economy and community skills programme: a review of the skills needs and requirements of our local economy.
• Voluntary skills provision: supporting vulnerable young people referred by Suffolk County Council to transition into education, employment and training.
All programmes are expected to be completed by 31 March 2025.