CEOs demand action on the Shared Prosperity Fund

1 Aug 19

One hundred chief executives have written to Boris Johnson to call on him to create a “world-leading” fund to replace money that currently comes from the EU to help local areas grow.

The leaders, from organisations including charities, companies, housing providers and funders, want the new prime minister to make good on the 2017 Conservative manifesto commitment to set up the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Currently, 4.9 billion euros are given to UK projects through the European Social Fund – an amount that nearly doubles when taking match funding into account.

The joint letter, written by the Employment Related Services Association and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said the new fund needs to deliver a better impact, and will need to at least meet the matched funding the UK would have been entitled to from 2020 to 2027.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: “The ESF supports vulnerable groups and marginalised communities up and down the country, through a broad range of programmes and initiatives.

“With the UK poised to leave the European Union, we welcome the prime minister’s announcement to bring forward plans on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

“The government should seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop a world-leading initiative that builds on the best aspects of ESF while addressing some of the design flaws which have led to excessive and unnecessary bureaucracy.”

A consultation on creating the fund was promised last year, but has been delayed, and organisations have only very vague ideas about how they should plan ahead.

The letter stresses the need for “greater clarity and pace” on the project if there is to be a seamless transition after Brexit.

Interim chief executive of the Employment and Related Services Association Elizabeth Taylor said: “[Mr Johnson] can set his vision for a UK where all can thrive and contribute to society by showing his commitment to ensuring disadvantaged people and communities can access crucial education, training and employment support.

“Organisations funded today by European Social Funds need surety their vital services will continue to be funded after we leave the European Union.

“The promised UK Shared Prosperity Fund could establish itself as a world-leading initiative but needs action now to be designed and ready to deliver in time so every part of society can share in our post-Brexit future.”

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