Today the Government are announcing a package of reforms to help all places throughout the UK to prepare for the opportunities leaving the European Union will bring. The Business Secretary and I are publishing a policy paper on strengthened local enterprise partnerships (LEPs). This publication sets out how we will work with LEPs on their role and responsibilities, leadership and organisational capacity, accountability and performance. A copy of the local enterprise partnership policy paper can be found here:
We have also confirmed that Government will be working with all mayoral combined authorities and local enterprise partnerships to develop local industrial strategies. We will take a phased approach, and the next wave of places we will work closely with are the North East, Tees Valley, West of England, Leicester and Leicestershire, Cheshire and Warrington and Heart of the South West. Government will aim to agree local industrial strategies across England by early 2020. We will be publishing a further statement on local industrial strategies to guide locally-led work. This will be published over the summer. We will also discuss with devolved administrations and other stakeholders how local industrial strategies could work in the devolved Administrations.
Alongside these announcements, I can today set out our progress on designing the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). Our manifesto committed to establishing a UK shared prosperity fund to reduce inequalities between communities across our four nations, once we have left the European Union and EU structural funds. This progress statement provides an update on our proposals to develop a UK shared prosperity fund:
The objective of the UKSPF. The UKSPF will tackle inequalities between communities by raising productivity, especially in those parts of our country whose economies are furthest behind. The UKSPF will achieve this objective by strengthening the foundations of productivity as set out in our modern industrial strategy to support people to benefit from economic prosperity.
A simplified, integrated fund. EU structural funds have been difficult to access, and EU regulations have stopped places co-ordinating investments across the foundations of productivity. Simplified administration for the fund will ensure that investments are targeted effectively to align with the challenges faced by places across the country and supported by strong evidence about what works at the local level.
UKSPF in the devolved nations. The UKSPF will operate across the UK. The Government will of course respect the devolution settlements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and will engage the devolved administrations to ensure the fund works for places across the UK.
A national framework in England that works for local priorities. Local areas in England are being asked to prepare local industrial strategies to prioritise long-term opportunities and challenges to increasing local productivity. This prioritisation will help local areas decide on their approach to maximising the long-term impact of the UKSPF once details of its operation and priorities are announced following the spending review.
Consulting the public. We intend to consult on the UKSPF this year, as we committed to do in our industrial strategy.
Furthermore, in 2016 the Government guaranteed funding for UK organisations in receipt of EU funds where projects are agreed before the day the UK leaves the EU. The Government have today announced an extension to this guarantee, which will underwrite the UK’s allocation for structural and investment fund projects under this EU budget period to 2020 in the event of no deal. This ensures that UK organisations, such as charities, businesses and universities, will continue to receive funding over a project’s lifetime if they successfully bid into EU-funded programmes before December 2020.