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Coalition calls for changes to Shared Prosperity Fund

25 February 2022

A COALITION of 32 civil-society organisations has called on the Government to make urgent changes to the administration of the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF).

The fund is a central part of the Government’s plans to “level up” the UK, and seeks to replace funding previously received through the European Union. The letter responds to the pre-launch guidance for the SPF, announced alongside the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper at the start of February. The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Pete Wilcox, said at the time that the proposals “barely begin to address the chronic under-investment of recent decades” (News, 2 February 2022).

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, the coalition asked the Government to commit immediate funding to skills and training. The timetable announced by the Government does not make provision for such funding until 2024/25.

The letter, sent on 15 February, also called for specialist organisations and the devolved nations to be involved in the administration of the fund, and for human rights and equality to be at the heart of the project’s design.

The letter also expresses concern that EU funding for some projects will soon come to an end, but that alternative funding has not yet been put in place.

The St Vincent de Paul Society is one of the organisations in the coalition. A supporting note sent with the letter gives details of the increase in requests that it has received since the start of the pandemic: 75 per cent for food, 50 per cent for clothing, and 140 per cent for support with paying bills and financial advice.

The society’s chief executive, Elizabeth Palmer, said: “Without listening to the voices of people who are directly and indirectly affected by regional inequalities, the Government cannot hope to direct funding where it is most needed.”

The Salvation Army is among the other signatories to the letter, which was co-ordinated by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Employment Related Services Association.

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