Details of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), including the indicative amounts available to each “place” and the timetable for awards October 2022 to March 2025 have now been published (13 April 22).
UKSPF recognises that there are pockets of need everywhere and, therefore, every administrative area down to district authorities have been given access to funding on a non-competitive basis. That said there are of course broad based but relatively strict criteria that must be meet in an assessed, application process that runs from now to 1 August (formal submission window, 30 Jun 1 Aug 22) to gain full access the totals available to each place.
Mayoral Combined Authorities, (MCA) and Combined Authorities (CA) in England will act as lead for their constituent authorities (tables at the end of funding annexes show how their allocations are reached and presumably their indicative indicative share of the funding?). There are special arrangements for those authorities the process of moving to combined authority status. Arrangement for England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland are broadly similar and detailed in separate documents. In Wales for example there are 4 regional leads: North, Mid, South West/Swansea Bay and South East/Cardiff Capital Region.
There is a lot of detail, some of it open to interpretation, contained in the main documents and key confirmatory information scattered across a number of annexes and supporting documents. An initial trawl of this material suggests that there are, significant potential for capital and revenue investment into visitor economy related areas including: culture, tourism, leisure, public realm and sense of place. There is even specific mention of support for visitor promotion (including administration and destination management?). It will be down to each “place” to decide if and how that potential for “tourism” is fulfilled within a plethora of other competing demands.
There are references to a parallel funding scheme Multiply, aimed at improving functional numeracy in the UK. This funding will be channelled in England via MCA’s and second tier authorities. There are some obvious opportunities within this for tourism sectors.
The timescales are tight, the demand on internal and external professional expertise to produce several hundred detailed applications, concurrently in a 4/5-month window will be a challenge. The benefits for tourism in general and for tourism in individual destination will, as ever, depend largely on the priority that is already accorded to tourism in any particular authority, MCA or CA and, critically, the quality of the schemes or projects and the cases for a tourism component made in the coming few weeks and couple of months at best. Minds, if not already made up, at local, MCA or CA levels will need to be very soon, if the application process and timetables are to be met.
I will continue to delve into the detail and if there is anything of significant to report, let you know. Please let me know if you are or become aware of any issues arising, or there is any central research or investigation required to assist you as a group. If destination managers would value an opportunity to discuss and/or share local plans in the next month or so in order to inform or help influence local debate and allocations, then I will happy to arrange it.