Francesca Bell, Assistant Director, Growth and Development:
a) presented a report to the Board on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) covering the following main points: -
· The key aims of the UKSPF centred around the UK Government’s flagship £4.8billion levelling up agenda
· There were three UKSPF investment priorities and projects would sit within three key pillars. These were:
o Communities and Place
o Supporting Local Business
o People and Skills
· The levelling up agenda gave everyone access to equal opportunities to prosper, to improve life chances, to narrow the gap on health inequalities, to improve public services, restore a sense of community and local pride and to boost productivity, pay, living and job standards
· The total funding allocation for Lincoln was £2.8M and the investment plan was derived further to consideration of evidence which demonstrated that there was a high level of deprivation within the City
· Six key areas of deprivation were identified geographically, in particular the Ermine area to the North of the City. In addition, deprivation in the Sincil Bank area and Abbey Ward.
· Through partnerships discussions and consideration of evidence that we held as a City Council such as national data around indices of multiple deprivation, key challenges identified included:
o In work poverty including food poverty
o Challenges around skills and training levels
o Barriers to accessing City centre offerings e.g. transport
o Lack of functioning Community Hub
o Community Engagement
o Support for Businesses
o Retention of Skills of Employees
· The key issues identified within Lincoln fell under the pillar of ‘Communities and Place’. As such, £1,787, 433 had been provisionally allocated which totalled 64% of the total UKSPF allocation for Lincoln
· The totality of investment for the ten highest scoring projects was £1,128, 725 which left £1,682, 048 of the total allocation
· The identification of the key issues within the City formed the basis of the key priorities detailed within the Investment plan submitted to Government
· Focus Consultants were procured to provide reporting on:
o Initial project scoring alignment with the UKSPF interventions
o Geographical targeting
o How the project responded to local deprivation
o Outputs and outcomes and how they aligned with the Investment plan
o The transformative potential
o Prospective projects previous experience with delivery and risk/s
· It was important to note that the project scores received from Focus Consultants did not consider:
o Local Knowledge
o Value for Money
o Knowledge of the providers
o Added Value
o Collaboration Opportunities
o Conflict and/or duplication with other projects
b) presented a summary of the report received from Focus Consultants which had been circulated to Members of the Board. The report covered analysis of the projects with the highest scoring within the three key investment priorities.
Communities and Place
The Lincoln UKSPF Investment Plan identified specific allocation for Cost of Living Support and a Community Grant Scheme
Cost of Living Support – Lead Organisation (subject to change) City of Lincoln Council
Comment: KM did not agree with the proposal and would have preferred the allocation to be ring fenced to support businesses.
Comment: Members supported the Cost of Living and Community Grant allocations. However, applications would be welcomed that focussed on employment, particularly the connection between employment and the social and economic benefits of having a job. If there were to be residual funding, the economy and jobs should be pursued.
Note: Charlotte Goy offered a Declaration of Interest. Reason - Visit Lincoln had submitted to the UKSPF.
Comment: Information on the scope and budget was useful for further discussion. Conversations with local business surrounding ‘pride of place’ was important to be fed back at a later date.
Comment: KM confirmed that although he was not against proposals, there were lots of other sectors to consider.
Proposal from the Chair: The Board were to contemplate specifics and then consider the scope of funding initially allocated. Further to consideration, Members would then check and challenge the wider mandate.
Response: Members may have identified the emergence of gaps which would be useful for consideration of future commission/s.
Community Grant Scheme – Lead Organisation: City of Lincoln Council & Investors in Lincoln
Let’s Move – Lead Organisation: Active Lincolnshire
65 Acres – Lead Organisation: Greater Lincolnshire Food Partnership
Development of Community Hubs – Leader Organisation: Bridge Church
No Wrong Door – Lead Organisation: Acts Trust
c) presented the collective view of the Investment Sub-Committee on projects under the ‘Communities and Place’ pillar covering the following main points:
· Delivery between projects was similar which could result in competition
d) welcomed comments and questions from Members of the Board
Note: Caroline Killeavy offered a Declaration of Interest. Reason - YMCA had submitted to the UKSPF.
Comment: Of the three projects grouped together, the funding requirement was significant for similar projects with similar outcomes within one specific area. There was potential synergy with another organisation of which worked within the remit of the ‘Greater Lincolnshire Food Partnership’ project. Capital investment from an alternative organisation should be considered. There were concerns that ‘No Wrong Door’ were very similar to ‘Connect to Support’ for Lincoln County Council. Collaborative work may be more beneficial instead. Services were often County-wide rather than City-wide.
Response: The software had been trialled. The difference between ‘Connect to Support’ and ‘No Wrong Door’ was that proposals included the use of a questionnaire which would be used with an individual to ascertain exactly what support was available for their individual circumstances.
Question: Would it be beneficial to build upon what was already there?
Response:‘No Wrong Door’ was viewed as a step prior to intervention from ‘Connect to Support’ and complimentary to the service - specifically for those with multiple needs such as skills, food, and financial support required.
Question: Competition needed to be avoided in the charitable sector. Had there been exploration of all partners best placed to deliver? Where did Citizen’s Advice sit within the service? Would a District collaboration on a county basis be an innovative solution?
Note: James Foster offered a Declaration of Interest. Reason – Lincoln College had submitted to the UKSPF.
Comment: The number of project submission was largely higher than the ten placed forward for funding. Was it possible to spread funding out to consider a greater number of projects? The avoidance of duplication was important.
Response: Assurance was provided that the current stage was to start the process to enable spending and to proceed projects. All projects were scored independently, and consideration had been given to the top ten that met the criteria. It would not inherently result in the remaining 38 projects being rejected for funding. Further to the identification of any gaps, remaining project submissions would be given consideration.
Comment: Anchor points had been sought to shape how the funding was distributed. Solutions were sought in addition to consideration of the wider stakeholder mapping.
Comment: Documentation and information prior to the meeting was useful to enable a considered opinion further to a verbal report and synopsis. The three projects were important.
Question: Would the Community Centre operate at Sudbrooke Drive or spread to a wider reach? Synergistic work was sensible.
Response: Initial proposals suggested that the project would be based out of the building, provided it was suitable. The plan would be for the services to parachute into other areas and communities within the City.
Comment: Members expressed concerns with ‘No Wrong Door’. It was notoriously difficult to maintain a database, however the project was not objected to.
Supporting Local Business
City Tribe - Retaining Talent
Business Lincolnshire Growth Hub
Note: There had been a gap identified in the form of a Business Advisor for Lincoln. This would be an individual who worked for City Council alongside the Growth Hub to offer Business support in Lincoln.
e) welcomed comments and questions from Members of the Board
Comment: The funding was offered for levelling up, to support communities and to reach those most disadvantaged. Projects ‘City Tribe’ and the Business Advisor position needed to reflect that. This could be demonstrated by the Business Advisor role supporting businesses that may otherwise struggle to start or run due to disadvantages. It would be useful to view past examples of social inclusivity in relation to ‘City Tribe’.
Question: Would the Business Advisor role be a generic role or specific to a sector need in Lincoln?
Response: The programme was in the early stages and therefore, it could be identified as a preference. Consideration of sectors most in need could be developed and could be considered upon appointment. North Kesteven had a Business Advisor and feedback received had been positive.
Comment: Duplication should be avoided and a collaborative approach would be of benefit to the end user of the service.
People and Skills
There was a requirement from Government which made funding under ‘People and Skills’ prior to 2024/25, very limited. In order to be successful for 2022/23 and 2023/24 funding, projects were required to have previously secured European funding and evidence was mandatory. Therefore, the project list narrowed significantly due to ineligibility.
The Restore Programme - Act Trust
Opportunity Lincoln – Framework
Note - There had been a gapidentified in the form of growth barriers and taking on more apprentices, trainees, new employees from the Business Advisor role above.
f) concluded the summary of the emerging recommendations and welcomed comments and questions from Members of the Board
Question: Was there a view in terms of what the Investment Sub-Committee or the Board considered the balance should be between the lead Local Authority carrying out the work or putting it out for a wider competition?
Response: The balance had not been determined. The Cost of Living Support may be best placed in another organisation. The total funding of £25,000 was only being earmarked for that area. The Community Grant Scheme would be carried out by ‘Investors in Lincoln’ as opposed to the City Council as they would be better placed for administration. The Business Advisor role may be best placed with the City of Lincoln Council (CoLC). There was not a mathematical calculation of appropriate balance. Lincoln was fortunate to benefit from a strong infrastructure of third-sector organisations and other partners.
Response: Value for money was considered with weight when scrutinising the project scoring. Greater investment may provide greater longevity.
Comment: There were choices between the Local Authority administering proposals themselves or engagement with the community sector. Lincoln Community Foundation could administer the Grant Scheme and could be very positive. There may be better partners identified to administer the Cost of Living Support. The total number of projects that would benefit from UKSPF, would be few. Focus Consultants had graded the projects but had reliability, deliverability and those already within those communities we want to reach with a track record, been considered?
Response: The requested funding was significant however suggestions for a commission arose to ensure the effects would be wider reaching. It was possible only to evaluate projects put forward as a result of independent scoring. There were limited applications for funding under ‘People and Skills’ due to European funding criteria. The Investment Sub-Committee identified the need for track records. Assurance was provided that all other bids submitted had not been rejected however the programme was in the initial steps.
Question: What scope was there to pinpoint organisations for a commission. Would it require a tender process as that could be complicated.
Response: Careful consideration would be required. Commissioning would need to be framed in a way that made it accessible, particularly in an area that we had not received an application to ensure equal access. Consideration could arise from how other areas had achieved the same or learning from previous funding we had done.
Comment: The one to one business support was critical and needed. However, it was important to remember the wider place agenda in terms of a shared ambition and goal alongside individual action plans.
Comment: Thanks was offered for all of the work that had been carried out and further thanks given to all individuals involved. Clarity had been received though presentations of the security of the Investment Sub-Committee and through questions and answers at Board.
Question: To articulate the depth of the discussion, would all challenges, concerns and conversations be feedback to elected Members? It was important to share the scope of discussions.
Response: Discussions would be represented to Members accurately and in depth. Consideration would be given to delivery mechanisms concerning commissions.
Comment: Within the next phase, the gaps that had been identified by the Investment Sub-Committee and Board Members would be recorded to enable them to feature within the next phase. There could be other areas to consider in the future.
Comment: Pride of place amongst the younger generation was disappearing. There was a number of estates who had experienced a rise in gang culture and anti-social behaviour. It may be useful for intensive work on Pride of Place with those areas and individuals.
The Chair offered thanks to Francesca Bell for the informative and detailed presentation and the subsequence discussion between Members of the Board.