To receive an update on progress made in spending the budget allocated to Gloucester within the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and intentions for the amount remaining unallocated within the Fund.
32.1 The City Growth and Delivery Manager introduced the report and advised that the purpose of the report was to update the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on progress in spending the UK Shared Prosperity (UKSPF) budget and the intention for the amount remaining unallocated in the fund. He noted that the Economic Growth Officer had been recruited and funded through the UKSPF administration levy.
32.2 The City Growth and Delivery Manager explained that a consultation process with local community groups had taken place from May – July 2022, the outcome of which had informed the Investment Plan which had been put forward for approval by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). He confirmed that the council had received expressions of interest from 49 organisations, and that 3.2 of the report summarised the services provided through the UKSPF to 8 organisations during its first year. The City Growth and Delivery Manager noted that he was pleased with the progress made by the council in distributing the UKSPF funding to local projects, and the Economic Growth Officer provided the Committee with an overview of these projects.
32.3 In relation to a £160k remaining underspend, the City Growth and Delivery Manager advised that Officers intended to hold a second round of allocation during the Autumn of 2023 and would be inviting community-based organisations to submit expressions of interest for their projects. He advised Members that an audit process was currently ongoing, and that it was expected that the review and shortlisting of submissions would take place in November, with the hope of distributing the funds to projects towards the end of the year.
32.4 In response to a query from the Chair regarding the statement in the narrative in 4.2 that £93,518k needed to be spent on capital, the Economic Growth Officer explained that this was a stipulation in the DLUHC terms of memorandum.
32.5 In response to a follow-up question from the Chair, the Economic Growth Officer confirmed that all of the remaining fund would be put towards the new expressions of interest and that previous applicants were welcome to come forward. The City Growth and Delivery Manager further encouraged Members to put local community groups and projects forward for consideration.
32.6 In response to a query from Councillor Toleman, the Economic Growth Officer advised that Officers hoped to open expressions of interest to organisations between October and November 2023, and that a communication would be sent to all Councillors in due course.
32.7 Councillor Dee asked for further information regarding the success criteria. The Economic Growth Officer stated that potential projects needed to fall in line with DLUHC priority areas, and this would be made clear in future communications. By way of example, the City Growth and Delivery Manager confirmed that improving places, businesses and employment and skills were considered to be priorities.
32.8 Councillor Hyman referred to the evaluation panel and asked how the external advisors from the community sector and small businesses had been selected. The City Growth and Delivery Manager confirmed that the representative from the voluntary and community sector (VCS) worked within a local organisation in Stroud and was selected due to their knowledge and the fact that they had no vested interest themselves in submitting a bid. He further stated that the other advisor had been selected from the Federation of Small Businesses.
RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee NOTE the update.