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UK Community Renewal Fund 2021-2022

Last Updated 17/05/2021 1:00pm

 

Introduction

Organisations with fresh ideas to help boost Devon’s economy 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 will open for applications on April 14, 2021.

The one-year Community Renewal Fund pilot could be worth up to £24m across Devon this year 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.

UK Government crest of arms

Background

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.

Private sector organisations and registered charities may prepare bids where they are providing a service to benefit other organisations or individuals.

Some things to note:

  • we will not accept bids where we believe the intention of the project is only likely to further their own business or organisation
  • candidates can submit multiple bids, but we can only submit a maximum of £3 million worth of bids per place

Funding details

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.

Each ‘place’ (district or unitary area) will be able to bid for up to £3m of project activity from the CRF (with a minimum value of £500,000), with the intention that Government will then select an appropriate schedule of projects from across the county to meet a reasonable geographic and typological mix, and reflect their prioritisation of places.

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.

Funding for projects will be paid to Devon County Council in two tranches. The first tranche will be paid on commencement (i.e. late July 2021 onwards), and the second tranche on completion (i.e. quarter 1 of financial year 2022-23).

It is for Devon County Council to decide how we will make payments to local projects. We are still developing our thinking on this but given the project timescales, it’s in our interest to ensure that at least some funding is available as early as possible.

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.

Priorities

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.

National priorities

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.

Local priorities

In selecting the bids that will be forwarded to the UK Government for consideration Devon County Council will prioritise those applications that have the greatest potential to deliver against both the UK Government priorities and Devon’s own priorities for recovery and growth

As part of this approach, the Council is specifically seeking projects which will reduce economic and social inequalities across the Devon area, whether through supporting our most vulnerable residents or hardest hit communities; or promoting wider growth and economic / job creation opportunities.

This will include additional support for:

  • Young People aged 19-24, notably those most at risk of NEET or already NEET; those with a disability; those in care / leaving care, or those wider a wider barrier to work or learning;
  • Older people (i.e those over 50), particularly those lacking lower levels transferrable skills;
  • Those with a disability, mental health issue or other health related barrier to work or learning;
  • Rural, coastal and urban communities experiencing significant and ongoing challenges around unemployment, educational attainment, health disparity or other factors which drive local deprivation;
  • Communities facing additional economic pressures from the onset of COVID 19, notably those with an over-representation of businesses / employment within the Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure sectors; and
  • Business support, skills and training, and regeneration activity which promotes sustainable enterprise activity, additional business innovation, promote new job creation or enable urban renewal within harder to reach locations / hardest hit locations.

Devon County Council would strongly advise applicants to consider the priorities set out through the Team Devon Recovery Prospectus, as well as the Heart of the South West Local Industrial Strategy and Local Skills Report when preparing relevant bids.

Geographic Coverage

The Community Renewal Fund within Devon is open to project proposals from any project covering all or part of the Devon administrative county area. This is made up of the 8 Districts (‘Places’) of North Devon, Mid Devon, Exeter, East Devon, Teignbridge, South Hams, West Devon and Torridge.

As part of the Government’s approach to the Community Renewal Fund however, it has identified 100 ‘priority places’ around the country which it wishes to promote through the fund. Within Devon, these are Torridge and West Devon.

Devon County Council would therefore particularly welcome bids which prioritise activity within these two districts.

Multi Area Bids

The UK Government has identified that added value that may be gained from individual ‘places’ working together through the Community Renewal Fund to provide improved impacts and outcomes.

Devon County Council therefore welcomes bids which seek to incorporate one or more ‘places’ in their submission. This includes bids which incorporate ‘places’ in neighbouring upper tier areas, notably within Cornwall, Somerset, Plymouth or Torbay.

Where projects are seeking however to work across multiple areas, Devon County Council would advise applicants to carefully consider the Government’s approach to priority places, and the relative weighting these will receive through appraisal.

Aligning Priorities

Devon County Council recognises that the strongest bids will often bring together more than one of the investment priorities outlined. As lead authority, Devon would welcome such alignment, seeking to achieve best value and greatest impact from the portfolio of proposals it will eventually submit to the UK Government.

To highlight the types of projects sought, a short sample of blended projects is provided below in illustration:

Digital Inclusion

Spanning all four of the investment priorities listed by the UK Government, and meeting the County Council’s equality priority 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 rural connectivity that supports business diversification, and other measures and support to contribute to reductions in local carbon production and increase the potential for trade.

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.

Encouraging Entrepreneurship

Spanning all the investment priorities, an individual enterprise led project may seek to promote student entrepreneurship, social enterprise and new start up support. This may include projects focusing on disadvantaged groups and stimulating business bounce back and growth through feasibility work on green tech. The project may also seek to address social mobility, upskilling of individuals, encourage business leadership and management, and support work hubs and enterprise facilities.

Green Economy

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

As the lead authority, Devon County Council will assess all bids submitted. Bids will be assessed against:

  • the gateway criteria set out in the UK Community Renewal Fund Prospectus – bids that fail to meet these criteria are ineligible for support and will be rejected;
  • the extent to which they meet the objectives of UK Community Renewal Fund; and
  • the extent to which bids would support the delivery of local growth and employment support priorities as set out through this prospectus.

Following assessment Devon County Council will submit those eligible bids which most strongly meet the UK Community Renewal Fund and local priorities to the UK Government for consideration, up to a maximum of £3m per place.

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.

Devon County Council will enter into a funding agreement with successful bidders.

Key dates

The important dates to note are:

  • Introduction Webinars – Following our recent webinars that took place on 19 and 20 April, we are offering a follow up webinar to offer help and guidance with the application process as well as answer any questions that have emerged. The webinar will be held on Friday 14th May at 10.00-11.30am, please sign up here. Email ukcrf@devon.co.uk to register your interest or to receive the presentation from previous sessions.
  • 23:59 19 May – deadline for submitting bids to Devon County Council
  • 18 June – Devon County Council submits 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 ukcrf@devon.gov.uk as soon as possible.

Support

We would encourage anyone interested in submitting a bid to make contact with us as soon as possible by emailing ukcrf@devon.gov.uk

We are hosting a series of webinars for communities, local authorities, universities, voluntary and community sector organisations and umbrella business groups or anyone interested in the UK Government Community Renewal Fund in Devon.

Sign up to hear more about the Community Renewal Fund. 

Devon County Council will provide dedicated officers to help provide advice on your bid preparation. All initial bids need to be submitted by 23:59 on 19 May – we are expecting there to be a degree of work to be undertaken following initial submission. Again, we will provide a resource for any advice, information, or guidance.

How to apply

We would encourage anyone interested in submitting a bid to make contact with us as soon as possible by emailing ukcrf@devon.gov.uk. Please include contact details and a brief description of your proposal.

 

Resources

You can read the UK Community Renewal Fund prospectus on the GOV.UK website, along with a range of other supporting documentation. This includes technical notes for project applicants and frequently asked questions.

The Devon prospectus for the UK Community Renewal Fund is available here.

Please find a copy of the presentation and the recording from the UK Government Community Renewal Fund webinar that took place on Friday 14 May 2021. If you have any additional questions that were not answered during the webinar, please contact ukcrf@devon.gov.uk

The Team Devon COVID-19 Economy and Business Recovery Prospectus sets out Devon’s shared vision for economic recovery over the next three years.

The Devonomics website publishes data and intelligence relevant to the Devon economy. You can also access a range of reports and publications which form the evidence base for Devon’s Economic Assessment.

Please note that this site will be updated in line with any new or additional information being provided by UK Government.
If you require this information in a different language or format please contact ukcrf@devon.gov.uk.

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