Community Renewal Fund
Organisations with ideas to help boost local growth and help those people and businesses hardest hit by the Covid pandemic are being urged to submit their bids into a new national fund that is now open for applications.
The Community Renewal Fund could bring £3M of funding into the borough and is a trial for the Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund. The aim of the fund is to encourage innovative schemes to help kickstart the local economy by investing in skills, helping people into employment, supporting local businesses to grow and develop, and helping local communities become more resilient and sustainable.
The UK Community Renewal Fund is a UK Government programme for 2021/22. This aims to support people and communities most in need across the UK to pilot programmes and new approaches to prepare for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It invests in skills, community and place, local business, and supporting people into employment. More information is available from the government’s UK Community Renewal Fund prospectus.
The UK Community Renewal Fund (UKCRF) is a £220 million, one-year pilot programme announced by the government in the March Budget. The UK government wants to test delivery approaches for post-EU community and economic support fund and provide additional assistance to local communities to help towards recovery from the pandemic.
Principally this is a revenue fund (90%); the UKCRF has been designed to mirror existing European Structural Funds through a single locally-led fund to be administered by upper-tier authorities, with a focus on supporting those hardest to reach and the UK’s most vulnerable locations.
The UK government intention, in running what are effectively one-year pilots, is to use any lessons learned around appraisal, delivery and effectiveness to inform the government’s permanent approach to replacement EU funding through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) due to be launched in 2022.
Who can apply
Any legally constituted organisation delivering an appropriate service is encouraged and should feel able to submit a bid.
We want to reach as many parts of the community as we can. We hope to receive bids from a wide range of applicants, including but not limited to local authorities, universities, voluntary and community sector organisations and umbrella business groups.
The amount available is a maximum of £3 million per place. For the purpose of the UK Community Renewal Fund, ‘place’ is defined at the district, unitary or borough scale in England.
A strong emphasis has been placed on innovating and piloting and projects are expected to set aside funds for monitoring and evaluation in support of this. Encouragement is also given in the guidance for successful bids to be highly deliverable, demonstrate strong strategic fit with evidence around the local need and be developed across more than one of the four priorities – preference is stated for holistic approaches.
Match funding is not specifically requested, although value for money is a key test. This is lessened as a request for projects supporting people into employment. The fund is 90% revenue and 10% capital judged at a national programme level.
If there is more than one organisation applying to deliver a project, a lead organisation must be selected to become the lead applicant (and grant recipient) with the remaining organisation(s) acting as delivery partner(s). In this situation, the applicant would be responsible and liable for the delivery partner(s) and ensuring the project is operating as planned.
Please be aware that spend by 31 March 2022 means all expenditure incurred by this date. Any expenditure that is incurred after this date i.e. relates to activity happening after 31 March 2022, is not eligible.
The government has set out its priorities across 4 key themes but has indicated that there is some scope for local tailoring of priorities and projects by lead authorities.
Projects must deliver activity that is line with the UK Community Renewal Fund Prospectus and align with at least one of these investment priorities:
Investment in skills:
The UK Government is encouraging prospective bids that have an emphasis on facilitating work-based training, upskilling and retraining of the workforce. This includes the promotion of digital skills and digital inclusion.
Investment for local business:
The UK Government is encouraging prospective bids that have an emphasis on supporting new entrepreneurship and growth sectors of business. This may include projects that support the taking on of new employees and promoting the development of existing staff. This may also include projects that develop new products to market and services that have an innovative design and that support local decarbonisation measures.
Investment in communities and place:
The UK Government is encouraging prospective bids that give consideration of enabling feasibility studies to deliver local carbon and energy projects. This includes exploration of opportunities for cultural or community led regeneration activity, improving green spaces and preserving local assets. It may also include promoting rural connectivity.
Supporting people into employment:
The UK Government is encouraging prospective bids that place an emphasis on supporting individuals to access local services or provision into employment. This may include projects that identify and address barriers to employment amongst the hardest to reach, raising local aspiration through sustainable employment, and seeking to support additional basic skills provision.
In selecting the bids that will be forwarded to the UK Government for consideration we will prioritise those applications that have the greatest potential to deliver against both the UK Government priorities and our own priorities for recovery and growth
As part of this approach, the Council is specifically seeking projects which will reduce economic and social inequalities, whether through supporting our most vulnerable residents or hardest hit communities; or promoting wider growth and economic / job creation opportunities. Local priorities are outlined in the invitation to bid document available in the download section.
To highlight the types of projects sought, a short sample of blended projects is provided below in illustration:
Spanning all four of the investment priorities listed by the UK Government, a single digital inclusion programme may draw together skills and inclusion activity, as well as business entrepreneurship and innovation support activity. This could include the provision of local connectivity hubs, outreach activities to support those furthest from the labour market, small scale capital improvements to improve connectivity that supports business diversification, and other measures and support to contribute to reductions in local carbon production and increase the potential for local growth.
Accelerated Growth Opportunities
Seeking to capitalise on new employment within growth sectors such as health and / or green engineering, a project may include elements which promote improved diversity in local recruitment, promote remote or more flexible learning approaches, and support local regeneration activity / specialist capacity building around skills and training. This could include support for new sector-based work academies and bootcamps, rapid upskilling programmes and feasibility work to explore the reuse/ renewal of local assets for learning and employment in core sectors.
Promoting More Resilient Communities
Linking across the four investment priorities, a regeneration project may seek to draw together local services and business opportunities, linking in and empowering local communities to take ownership and build sustainable employment and investment. This might include buy-local initiatives to stimulate the opening of village and town centres, community learning and outreach, and upskilling and reskilling programmes.
Linking the four themes, projects may focus on developing green skills and promoting employment and new investment opportunities in the green sector. This may include new courses, green business resource efficiency programmes, ties to community energy, natural capital pilots, feasibility of woodland enterprise zone, link to digital biosphere, attracting conservation and responsible tourists.
How bids will be assessed
The assessment process is outlined in the invitation to bid document, please read this carefully before applying.
The UK Government will assess all bids submitted by lead authorities against the criteria set out in the UK Community Renewal Fund Prospectus.
The UK Government will announce the outcome of the assessment process from late July 2021 onwards.
North East Lincolnshire Council will enter into a funding agreement with successful bidders.
The important dates to note are:
- 21 May – deadline for submitting bids
- 18 June – NELC submits successful bids to UK government. We will provide feedback to all applicants.
- July – successful bids notified
- August – contracts signed
- November – first monitoring activity by UK Government
- 31 March 2022 – all activity and spend is complete
We would encourage anyone interested in submitting a bid to make contact with [email protected] as soon as possible.