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  • Major public funding opportunities announced by UK Government

    Created: 30/04/2021, Updated: 04/05/2021

    Levelling Up communities 

    In early March, the UK government announced three public investment programmes aimed at Levelling Up communities - ensuring that no community is left behind, especially as the country continues its emergence and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds seek to decentralise power and process in this area, and Fife Council therefore plays a significant role locally. The funds are viewed as something of a bridge between the EU Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), and their nominal replacement in the UK from 2022 - the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

    Three funds are currently open for bidding. All bids are to be made through the prescribed process to Fife Council, and best for more developed projects that can be rolled out rapidly.

    The current priority is on the Community Renewal Fund - turnaround time is tight for it.

    We will update this page periodically, as more information becomes available, including deadlines for submission to Fife Council.

    Community Renewal Fund

    Up to £20 million is available in Fife - a maximum available from national funding, not a dedicated pot- for projects that seek to pilot new programmes and approaches that align national and local provision, and support people and communities that are considered the most in need. Priority is being given to certain council areas based on a specified methodology; Fife is not one of the priority areas, but bids will be considered and funding may be available if not exhausted in the priority areas.

    Investment priorities

    This fund - a maximum of 10% of which may be for capital costs - seek particularly to invest in the following key areas:

    • Skills
    • Support into employment
    • Investment for local business
    • Investment in communities and place

    Fife Council considers that the broadest scope for new and innovative pilot projects comes in the latter two priority areas, and is particularly interested in projects that look to invest in those areas through:

    • Developing feasibility studies for delivering net-zero and local energy
    • Exploring opportunities to promote culture-led regeneration and community development
    • Improve green spaces and preserve important local assets
    • Promote rural connectivity

    The fund is particularly interested in bids that build on local knowledge, and that demonstrate new and innovative ideas. Examples of project ideas include (but are not restricted to):

    • Work-based training; retaining, upskilling or reskilling members of the workforce; or promoting the advancement of digital skills and inclusion (Investment in Skills)
    • Supporting people to engage with local services which support them on their journey towards employment; identifying and addressing any potential barriers these individuals may face in gaining employment or moving closer to the labour market; raising aspirations, supporting individuals to access Plan for Jobs employment support and find suitable employment; supporting people to gain the basic skills they need to develop their potential for sustainable work; and testing what works in helping people move towards work (Supporting people into employment)
    • Supporting entrepreneurs and helping businesses with the potential to create more job opportunities for current employees, or to take on new employees; encouraging businesses to develop their innovation potential; or supporting decarbonisation measures (Investment for local business)
    • Feasibility studies for delivering net-zero and local energy projects; exploring opportunities for promoting culture-led regeneration and community development; improving green space and preserving local assets (Investment in communities and place).

    Shortlisted projects must be submitted by Fife Council by 18 June 2021; bids must therefore be received well before then. Prospective projects are encouraged to engage with Fife Voluntary Action and Fife Council as early as possible to ensure that they will be able to participate in this process fully.

    We can apply for up to £3m, including individual projects of up to £500k.

    Full details of the Community Renewal Fund can be found on the UK Government's website.

    We will update this section as more information becomes available.

    Levelling Up fund (for information only at this stage - bids will be able to be submitted next year)

    The Levelling Up fund commits a package of £800 million across four years to projects in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and specifically targets projects that seek to improve the infrastructure of local communities. It is specially designed to support investment in the areas where it can make the biggest difference- Fife ranks in tier two of its three-tier priority system- and to further genuine local priorities for investment through requiring extensive local stakeholder support.

    Fife can make a total of four bids to the fund- one for each Westminster constituency in the region- and the MP for each constituency will be asked to support one project as a priority for the area. While it is possible for projects to be selected without backing from their MP, it is strongly recommended to engage with them at an early point as their support will likely be highly persuasive.

    The fund will focus on projects that require up to £20 million in funding, with some scope to go up to £50 million for large-scale transport projects. The bids must have the approval of Fife Council, but may also be partnerships with neighbouring regions where this is appropriate.

    The first round of the Fund will focus on three major themes:

    • Transport investments - including public transport, active travel, bridge repairs, local road improvements, accessibility improvements, and more
    • Regeneration and town centre investment - upgrading eyesore buildings and dated infrastructure, acquiring and regenerating brownfield sites, investing in secure community infrastructure, and more
    • Cultural investment - maintaining, regenerating or repurposing cultural and heritage assets, or creating new community-owned spaces to support the arts and serve as cultural spaces.

    Projects should be aligned to and support Net Zero goals: for instance, be based on low or zero-carbon best practice; adopt and support innovative clean tech and/or support the growth of green skills and sustainable supply chains.

    Shortlisted projects must be submitted by Fife Council by 18 June 2021; bids must therefore be received well before then. Prospective projects are encouraged to engage with Fife Voluntary Action and Fife Council as early as possible to ensure that they will be able to participate in this process fully.

    A full description of the fund, and a prospectus detailing the application process and fund guidelines, can be found on the UK Government's website.

    Community Ownership Fund

    Community groups can bid for up to £250,000 in matched funding to help them buy or take over local community assets at risk of being lost, to run as community-owned business. In exceptional cases, up to £1 million in matched funding will be available to help establish a community-owned sports club or help buy a sports ground at risk of being lost without community intervention.

    Pubs, sports clubs, theatres, post office buildings and other crucial parts of the social fabric of communities- those amenities that foster a sens of community pride., or which bring people together- may potentially be safeguarded by this fund. The fund seeks to help alleviate the financial barriers that community groups have in creating a sustainable platform for community ownership.

    Bidding will be open by June 2021- a full bidding prospectus is yet to come, but it will set out how to structure a bid, what activity to take to support this, what information to include, and the criteria by which bids will be assessed. Bidding is largely intended for formalised community groups with proper governance in place, but consideration may be given to projects where there is a clear plan to set up proper community-level governance.

    Eligible assets are unspecified- it is considered that communities should determine what matters the most to them. But projects could include communuity-owned sports clubs, sporting and leisure facilities, cinemas and theatres, music venues, museums, galleries, parks, pubs, post office buildings, and shops.

    Projects should be focused on place-based assets or amenities, which are important to the local community, build connections between people and foster a sense of pride in the local area – but are at risk of being lost without community intervention. There will be an emphasis on ensuring the asset or amenity can be sustainable in community ownership.

    In most cases, bids will be able to make the case for up to £250,000 matching funds which communities have raised. Some funding will be available for feasibility studies and capability building, particularly in places with fewer resources, or for initial running costs where it can be shown these will lead to a sustainable community business. Funding will not be made available to pay off a businesses’ debts, nor to buy an indebted business.

    Recognising the range of costs associated with purchasing assets associated with sports, exceptionally bidders will be able to make the case for up to £1 million match-funding for these types of project.

    We will provide more information on this fund as it becomes available. Ensure that you are signed up to our News and Events e-bulletin to ensure that you are notified.

    Full details of the Community Ownership Fund can be found on the UK Government's website.

    We expect guidance for this to be published over the summer and so deadlines and more details should become known then.  Organisations may be able to apply directly to this fund. We'll post updates to this page when we have more information.

    Support available from Fife Voluntary Action

    The size and scope of these funding opportunities offer a potentially significant platform for ambitious third sector projects. The tight timescales, however, and the complexities of the process mean that some good and potentially transformative projects may struggle to pull together a feasible proposal. Fife Voluntary Action strongly advocates seeking to partner with other organisations in your area to deliver projects under this fund in partnership, where possible, in order to demonstrate increased capacity, sufficient local buy-in, and overall project viability.  FVA is willing to co-ordinate an umbrella bid for the third sector in Fife, alongside our partners in Fife Council.

    If you would like to explore the possibility of bringing forward a bid to these funds and would like support either to complete the application process or to be part of an umbrella bid, contact our Chief Executive, Kenny Murphy.

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