The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The fund, managed by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is the government’s domestic replacement for the European Structural and Investment Programme. UKSPF aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK, by investing in three investment priorities: communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, visit UK Shared Prosperity Fund Prospectus.
In April 2022, the UK Government announced Wealden District Council had been awarded an indicative allocation of £1.17million for the period of April 2022 – March 2025. The allocation has been unequally split across the three years; with the majority of the fund due in the final year. The council submitted an investment plan in July 2022, outlining how this funding allocation would be spent in line with the three investment priorities outlined by DLUHC. Year 1 activity focused on the Communities and Place investment priority and years 2 and 3 will deliver against all three priorities; communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. In January 2023, the council received approval of the investment plan and the year 1 funding amount.
There were some delays with the funding from DLUHC, however we were able to begin delivery of the projects in year 1, these included:
- Five greatly successful “Streets of Wealden” theatre events in Wealden’s key town centres. The events drew in thousands of people to the highstreets to see the performers, each date received a fantastic response from residents. View our YouTube video from these events.
- A varied wellness programme of activities including outreach work with retirement living courts, centre-based sessions for those with long term health issues and walk in health check days, among others.
- Development of a Cuckoo Trail Masterplan, which continued into year 2. We procured landscape architects to undertake research, engagement activities and produce an overarching strategy for improving the Cuckoo Trail. The plan recommends a number of projects to be delivered within the remaining UKSPF period and a number of aspirational projects that we hope will be delivered in the future when funding permits. To request a copy of the final Masterplan, email email@example.com
- New benches and bike maintenance stations were purchased for installation along the cuckoo trail to improve user experience and replace damaged.
Year 2, April 2023 – March 2024, progress to date:
- Support was given to the Hailsham Festival to deliver a community arts project, engaging with local artists, businesses and school children to install their artwork submissions on the Eastwell Place Bridge located on the Cuckoo Trail in Hailsham. They received over 250 artwork submissions and a fantastic turnout at the unveiling at this year’s Hailsham Festival of Arts and Culture on Saturday 9 September.
- Commissioning the delivery of Journey’s Festival of Dance in Hailsham on Saturday 23 September. The day will be packed with Tango performances, workshops, live music in Hailsham High-street followed by a spectacular evening show combining tango, fire and theatre at 8pm in Vicarage Lane car park, Hailsham, BN27 1BE. For more information visit Explore Wealden.
- Working in partnership with East Sussex County Council and other Districts and Boroughs in the County we are delivering a programme of business support to help start-ups maximise chances for success and existing businesses to scale.
- A People and skills programme, also in partnership with ESCC and other Districts and Boroughs in the County commenced in year 2, the programme helps those furthest from the labour market access mentoring, employability and job seeking support to secure and retain suitable employment.
- A number of Cuckoo Trail related projects which arose from the Masterplan will begin delivery shortly, currently project plans for each are being drawn up.
In Year 3 we are looking to deliver the following projects between April 2024 – March 2025:
- A further programme of town centre events following the success of the year 1 events.
- Another wellness programme of activities to build on our year 1 delivery.
- ESCC Business Support project continues.
- ESCC People and Skills project continues.
- Cuckoo Trail projects from the Masterplan will continue to be delivered until March 2025, further details will be provided in the coming months.
In September 2022, the UK government also announced a top-up to UKSPF specifically for rural areas, the Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF). A sperate pot to provide capital grants to community groups and businesses in rural areas between April 2023 and April 2025. These grants schemes are due to be launched later this autumn, further details will be provided in due course.