Most North East councils have the chance to bid for grants from a new fund designed to smooth the transition from EU regional funding to a new UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF).
The new UK Community Renewal Fund (CRF) amounts to only a fraction of EU structural funds, of which the North East region, including Tees Valley, received £742m for 2014-20 and which the government has pledged to match through the SPF to the tune of about £1.5bn a year nationally once EU funding runs out in 2023.
The CRF totals only £220m for the whole UK but is intended only to fund pilot projects in the most needy areas in preparation for the introduction of SPF which, the government says, ‘will be a flagship policy in delivering on this government’s commitment to level up the country’.
According to Robert Jenrick, Communities Secretary, the interim CRF ‘will help support local areas to pilot imaginative new approaches and programmes that unleash their potential, instil pride, and prepare them to take full advantage of the UKSPF when it launches in 2022’.
Funding priorities will be investment in skills, local business, communities and place, and supporting people into employment.
Councils in 100 deprived areas have been identified as lead authorities and will be able to bid for up to £3m each. They include all North East councils except North Tyneside, Sunderland and Stockton. North of Tyne Combined Authority may replace Newcastle and Northumberland – the government is ambiguous on this point.