Members approve Highland Council’s Delivery Plan for utilising grants from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund

Members of Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee today (2 February 2023) agreed the local authority’s Delivery Plan for funding received via the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Ken Gowans, said: “We welcome this significant funding, it important that, as a council, we move at pace to maximise the very real benefits this additional funding will bring.

I look forward to working with stakeholders and partners to help and enhance communities across Highland. It is important we invest in locally to enable people to upskill and develop, the Shared Prosperity Fund will a key enabler to do just that.”

The funding will help Highland Council bring additional investment to the people of Highland, supporting communities, businesses, employment and tourism. The overarching objective of the UKSPF is to build pride in place and to increase life chances.

The initial Investment Plan was formally submitted by Highland Council back in August 2022, following member consultation and engagement earlier last year.

On 6 December 2022, the Council received a grant offer pf £1,461,484 for 2022/23 and indicative allocations for 23/24 (UKSPF Core £1,896,690) (Ring Fenced Multiply funds £569,007) and 24/25 (£4,969,327) (Ring Fenced Multiply funds £569,007).

The grant was conditional on agreement to and return of the Memorandum of Understanding and clarification of Indicative Deliverables included in the Investment Plan. This was completed and it is expected that the 2022/2023 grant award will shortly be received.

The Delivery Plan, agreed by Members today, includes the following benefits to Highland communities. Each of the below examples now have 2022/23 spend allocated to them:

  • Communities & Place – Placed Based Investments, regeneration and town centre improvements – 22/23 allocated spend of £83K to be utilised alongside current IEE Service, Community Regeneration Fund grant programme and specifically used to support project(s) not otherwise funded by other sources.
  • Communities & Place – Active travel enhancements and small-scale transport projects – 22/23 allocated spend of £83K to be used on existing agreed active travel projects underway/planned to commence.
  • Communities & Place – Relevant feasibility studies – 22/23 allocated spend of £150K to complement Council resources, accelerate delivery of Area Place Plan coverage across Highland.
  • Supporting Local Business – Development and promotion of the visitor economy – 22/23 allocated spend £200K (£100K Capital and £100K Revenue) to be used as Council’s contribution towards Fort William hosting the mountain bike event as part of the UCI World Championships to be held in Scotland in 2023.
  • Supporting Local Business – Strengthening local entrepreneurial ecosystems – 22/23 allocated spend on a feasibility study to review the breadth of public, third and private investors active in Highland – to determine whether options exist to better align and co-ordinate investment in businesses.
  • Supporting Local Business – Expert business advice and support programmes, local and regional – 22/23 allocated spend of £75K to extend the provision of expert start-up and growth specialist advisers and support staff which currently deliver the Council’s economic recovery Business Start-up and Growth Programme (which was otherwise to end in March 2023).
  • People and Skills – Employment support for economically inactive people – 22/23 allocated funding of £66K which will be linked to the Council’s existing work programme of the Employment Team, working in partnership with Highland Employability Partnership (HEP).
  • People and Skills – Local skills need – 22/23 allocated funding of £200K to be used (with additional HIE funds) to attend the Inverness & Highland City Region Deal Science Skills Academy (SSA) until the end of 2023 – to enable SSA to demonstrate impact and investigate alternative and sustainable funding.
  • People and Skills – Green skills courses – 22/23 allocated spend of £50K for early stage works to design and launch small scale skills grant scheme for Highland businesses.

Also, in the Delivery Plan there are allocations for Multiply funding which is ring-fenced. These can be found within Appendix 1 of today’s report to the Economy & Infrastructure Committee – (item 18)

Following an indicative allocation from the UK Govt. of £9,445,515 for Highland over a three-year period (1 April 2022 to 31 March 2025), the Council received on 6 December 2022 confirmation of £1,461,484 for 2022/23 and indicative allocations of £2,465,697 and £5,538,334 for financial years 2024/25 and 2024/25.

The 2023/24 and 2024/25 indicative allocations will be reviewed on submission of reporting requirements detailing progress on spend and confirmed in annual Grant Determinations. The funding provided is a mix of revenue and capital funds.

2 Feb 2023