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Investment plan in development for UK Shared Prosperity Fund money

Published July 05, 2022 3.30pm

Councillors at a North East local authority will next week hear proposals of how it could use its allocation from the Government's UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

In April, the Government announced initial funding allocations for the UKSPF, which will replace previous European funding arrangements. The UKSPF can be used to deliver activities under three investment themes: communities and place, supporting local businesses and people and skills.

Councils have until 1 August to submit an investment plan, developed in conjunction with local partners and MPs.

Update on development

While the investment plan will go through local engagement sessions before approval, our Cabinet will be given an update on how the plan has been developed and what the proposals currently are.

Councillors will hear that County Durham has been allocated £30 million from the fund, with an additional £2 million to support the Government's Multiply programme to improve adult numeracy skills.

The investment plan proposes to use this funding to support the growth of the county's economy, with a focus on activities which will strengthen local businesses, increase productivity, and help to them to sustain, grow, and innovate.

Culture and green technology

Proposals also include a focus on green technology and decarbonisation, recognising the climate change emergency and our targets to achieve net zero within our operations by 2030, and make the county carbon neutral by 2045.

Findings from our recent Big Econ-versation and priorities from within the County Durham Vision and emerging Inclusive Economic Strategy show a need for improvements to town centres and high streets to revitalise these areas. The plan therefore proposes to use the UKSPF to invest in activities that enhance community and neighbourhood infrastructure.

Another key priority within the proposed plan is to support the county of culture programme, raising the profile of the county and its culture, tourism, and heritage offer to encourage people to visit and explore the area.

Local engagement

The next steps will be to finalise the investment plan through local engagement sessions and briefings with key partners, stakeholders, and MPs before submission in August.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, our Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: "We have been working with a range of local partners, stakeholders, MPs, and residents to develop a strong investment plan which addresses key priorities for the county.

"A golden thread through the plan is a focus on achieving a thriving economy and tackling the root causes of deprivation and inequality, creating more and better jobs for everyone and areas where people are proud to live, work and visit. We are also developing the proposals in line with our climate commitments, ensuring the investment contributes to our targets of achieving net zero."

Cabinet will take place on Wednesday, 13 July at 9.30am. The meeting can be viewed online at DCC on YouTube.

Read the cabinet agenda and minutes - 13 July 2022 online.