The report provides proposed projects and recommendations for use of Rotherham’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) £6.4m allocation, for 2023/24 and 2024/25.
Projects will help Rotherham businesses to start up and grow, develop the skills our residents need to get a good job and progress in their careers, and provide targeted support to local communities in the face of cost of living and other pressures. In short, this package of measures will support the Council’s aspirations to build a more inclusive local economy.
Portfolio – Leader of the Council
Directorate – Assistant Chief Executive’s
The Chair invited the Chief Executive to introduce the report. She outlined that the UKSPF was a three-year government funded programme channelled through the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA), introduced as a successor fund to the European Structural Funds (ESF).
It was noted that the UKSPF replaced the funding available through ESF, albeit at a lower level. The regional allocation for South Yorkshire equated to £38.9 million over three years, compared with €410 million from 2007- 2013 and €180 million between 2014 – 2020.
Rotherham’s allocation of the UKSPF was £7.2 million from April 2022 to March 2025. Of this £5.6 million was allocated to revenue funding with the remaining £1.6 million allocated to capital projects. £6.4 million was available in years two and three.
All funding allocated under the fund had to meet and eligibility criteria which was signed off by Government in late 2022. The criteria were aligned to the following themes:
· Supporting local business
· People and skills
· Community and place
The report and appendices listed the activity and programmes supported by the fund.
It was noted that the timescales attached to the funding was extremely tight, therefore South Yorkshire partners had looked pragmatically at developing proposals to avoid disruption to services and businesses and loss of key staff. It was outlined that some of the projects would have come to an end had this funding not been available. The use of the funding would ensure that priority schemes could be delivered, especially in the context of cost-of-living inflationary increases. Examples were given of integrated working such as Employment Solutions which were having a positive impact on those people needing additional support to access employment.
The Chair invited questions from Board Members and a discussion on the following issues ensued:
Further details were sought on how year one funding was reported. It was outlined that details were reported in the financial update, however because of the amount of detail and the significance of years two and three funding this was reported to Cabinet in a stand-alone paper.
Clarification was requested on how partnerships and agencies were selected and if there was sufficient capacity for programmes to be rolled out wider (e.g. Open Arms). It was outlined that a mapping exercise had been undertaken with voluntary-community sector partners to identify what activity was already underway in the borough. This had identified communities where the greatest need of support was required, including local infrastructure. The aim was to target funding where the greatest impact could be made in line with the criteria. It was noted that projects in some wards may not access funding although the Council continued to explore new funding streams to support future targeted work.
Further details were requested about business incubation centres and how success was measured. The Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment outlined that there were four business incubation centres in Rotherham. Referrals were received from business networks such as the Chamber of Commerce, colleges or self-referrals. What differentiated incubation centres from managed-only workspace was the wraparound support and advice to start-ups and links into research, development and wider networks. Success was measured on the rate of business survival. It was outlined that capital investment would be used to enhance available technology and workspaces.
Further details were sought about the rationale for allocation of funding and if there was any discretion for greater investment, particularly in respect of the theme relating to people and skills. It was felt that this was a critical area in Rotherham as there were gaps in the workforce in respect of skills and education. It was clarified that the South Yorkshire Investment Plan agreed with Government at the end of 2022 had stipulated the allocation according to theme.
Further details were required about the number targeted under the programme and if the investment would make the impact needed, particularly for young people. It was outlined that Employment Solutions worked with people who were furthest away from employment, providing significant wraparound support for those who could not access mainstream models. It was noted that the employment solutions team were outperforming other comparative services. Examples were given of how the team approached its work, providing holistic support to address often complex needs. It was felt that the target of supporting 300 people who were furthest away from employment would make a significant impact. The service complemented the mainstream offer provided by DWP and Job Centre Plus. It was suggested that OSMB visited the Employment Solution team at a future point.
Clarification was sought on how the ‘hardest to reach’ were identified and engaged with and what mitigation was in place to reduce the risk of people ‘falling through the gap’. It was outlined that there were good levels of coordination between statutory agencies and the voluntary and community sectors. For example, outreach workers embedded in communities to liaise with groups to identify people with whom agencies already had a trusted relationship. There were links with other projects such as debt advice, early help, or programmes providing support for people with more complex needs for example drug and alcohol issues.
Further details were sought about multisport physical activity hubs and where these would be located. It was outlined that the capital funding would lever in additional grants from the football Association to create two new facilities in the borough. The locations of these had not yet been determined. Assurance was given that further discussions will take place to identify the areas that meet the criteria and match existing priorities.
In respect of the funding relating to the Children’s Capital of Culture, clarification was sought whether the creation of 40 paid traineeships for young people aged 16 to 25 was sufficiently ambitious. It was clarified that the purpose of this element was to build capacity within host organisations to build a legacy of skills and knowledge within the cultural partnerships. It was observed that there were opportunities to target skills training across the labour market and particularly focusing on young people.
In respect of the capital spend linked to the visitor and leisure economy, clarification was sought to establish how the projects had been selected. It was outlined that the projects had received funding from the ‘Levelling-Up’ programme. Since that point there had been inflationary pressures which had had an impact on their delivery. In order to deliver the agreed scope, the proposal was to pick up the shortfall through this capital funding so that existing projects could deliver their output and outcomes. It was reiterated that the selected programmes aligned with the set criteria for use of funding and had been prioritised on that basis. Significant investment in Rotherham’s towns and villages had been levered in over recent years, amounting to some £1 million.
Further details were sought about the equality impact assessment and gathering data related to take-up of employment and skill support for people with protected characteristics. It was outlined that there was a difficulty in gathering information, particularly with wider networks, however work was underway to identify who access services and the barriers they may face.
1) That a further progress report be submitted to the Board prior to the end of the current municipal year.
2) That a visit to the Employment Solutions team be organised for OSMB members.
3) That Cabinet be advised that the following recommendations be supported:
1. Endorse the projects for submission to South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority for award of UKSPF for 2023/24 and 2024/25 as follows:
a) Local Business Support
i) £1,693,727 for sub-regional business support supporting three strands of “Launchpad” (start-up support); productivity and low carbon.
ii) £234,870 capital for Rotherham’s business incubation centres.
iii) £234,482 for social value to coordinate and enhance social value activity, focused on increasing local spend through anchor organisations’ procurement activity.
b) People and Skills
i) £1,291,013 for Rotherham integrated skills programme (RISP) providing four projects covering the journey from initial engagement with those hardest to reach, through to sustainable employment and career progression.
ii) £421,502 for Children’s Capital of Culture to extend and expand the traineeship programme with further capacity building support for partners.
c) Communities and Place
i) £471,664 for Children’s Capital of Culture, including investment in existing and new events and festivals across the Borough, building capacity in community organisations and groups and creating more resilient models for grass roots programmes.
ii) £370,094 for Open Arms Rotherham phase 2 for ongoing delivery of fortnightly one-stop shop sessions, in targeted neighbourhoods and further development of community infrastructure, including community leaders.
iii) £100,000 for Reaching Out Across Communities, establishing local equality networks to ensure that current and future interventions are informed by and effectively reach all of Rotherham’s diverse communities.
iv) £280,000 for town centre events to deliver a regular programme and increase footfall.
v) £1,068,709 for the visitor and leisure economy, supporting the delivery of capital schemes across Rotherham, focused on major attractions, increasing visitor numbers, and improving skills
vi) £80,000 capital for Active Lives, creating additional multi-sport play zones in local communities.
i) £200,000 for a small grants programme for rural businesses supporting rural micro and small enterprises and tourism and the visitor economy.
2. Agrees to delegate authority to the Assistant Chief Executive in consultation with the Leader of the Council to determine revised and final allocations for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, including allocation of funding to the three capital schemes within the ‘visitor and leisure economy’ proposal. This is to include provision for other eligible actions within the use of the fund should it not be possible to achieve full spend of the grant through the allocations above.