Lottery to match EU regeneration funding

16 June 2014

The Big Lottery Fund has announced it will match funding allocations from the European Union for regeneration projects, in a boost to the money available to local enterprise partnerships.

The fund announced today that it was in advanced talks to match more than £260m of the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) from 2014-2020 to encourage charities and third sector organisations to bid for funding.

Priorities for the new seven-year programme will be determined by LEPs as part of their local growth plans. Once the ESIF funding package is approved by the European Commission later this year, the matched money will be available for projects that address poverty and social inclusion, such as schemes to improve skills and employability in disadvantaged communities.

 

The funding deal is intended to increase the involvement of charities in delivering the plans agreed by LEPs, who will take control of allocation European funds from Whitehall.

 

Big Lottery Fund chief executive Dawn Austwick told delegates at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ annual conference that £620,000 of lottery funding would also be made available to bring together voluntary organisations in LEP areas. This would ensure they were involved in early conversations about funding opportunities and could start developing bids, ahead of the allocations from local growth deals.

 

Only a very small proportion of the last round of European Social Fund money was accessed by charities, NCVO chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington said. The new round would be focused on a community-led approach.

 

‘This is very important news for the voluntary sector. Previously, work funded by European social inclusion funding has been nationally designed, and delivered through large organisations.

 

‘We made very clear that we believe the best way for the funding to make a difference is to use it to support the work of expert charities.

 

‘This is why we called for the money earmarked for social inclusion to be available to the voluntary sector. Voluntary organisations will now be shaping and running the projects they think are necessary to help people in disadvantaged communities.’

 

Civil society minister Nick Hurd MP also welcomed the decision, highlighting that ‘social entrepreneurs’ had previously struggled to access funding from the EU.

 

‘We are determined to change that. Over the last year, Cabinet Office, NCVO and Big Lottery have worked very hard to engage the LEPs and create this exciting opportunity.

 

‘Now we have to get the detail right – so that this money works as hard as possible on behalf of the most excluded and disadvantaged in communities across the country.’

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Sir Andrew Witty’s Review of Universities and Growth puts a lot of onus on LEPs. All LEP Chairs should read

See link for full report.  All LEP Chairs should read.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/249720/bis-13-1241-encouraging-a-british-invention-revolution-andrew-witty-review-R1.pdf

Round 5 of the Regional Growth Fund now open. Bid for share of £300 million

A new round of the Regional Growth Fund opened 11th October as the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called on businesses across the country to bid for a share of the £300 million cash pot.

The Deputy Prime Minister praised ‘home grown and British-based businesses’ for their crucial role in Britain’s economic recovery.

So far £2.6 billion from the first four rounds of the Regional Growth Fund has supported over 400 projects and programmes, which will create and safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs over the long-term and stimulate £14.7 billion of private sector investment.

Round 5 will be open to private sector bidders seeking £1 million or more. The government is calling for companies planning high quality projects that will generate significant private sector investment and sustainable jobs. Businesses will be able to submit their bids until noon on 9 December.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“This fund has so far helped over 400 projects and over 3,000 SMEs across the country to boost our economy – expanding, improving, innovating and helping secure our economic recovery.

“The economic recovery is starting to bloom – we’re seeing very encouraging signs that we are turning a crucial corner on our road to recovery. Home-grown and British-based businesses are leading that charge for a stronger economy. The Regional Growth Fund is a helping hand from the government, but I pay tribute to the people who are working hard to fuel our recovery.

“My message to businesses in every region is clear – if you’ve got a project that needs a boost, bid for cash from the Regional Growth Fund.”

To help bidders on their applications, road shows and expression of interest days will be held throughout the country from today to provide advice on how to make a successful bid. These will be in the following locations:

  • 11 Oct – Newcastle, North East (launch event)
  • 14 Oct – Loughborough, East Midlands
  • 25 Oct – Huddersfield, Yorkshire and Humber
  • 05 Nov – Plymouth, South West
  • 13 Nov – Liverpool, North West
  • 14 Nov – Birmingham, West Midlands

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

“Round 5 requires minimum bids of £1 million but smaller bids are also supported by the fund through programmes. That is why I am making sure that local and national programmes are available to small to medium-sized businesses from as little as £5,000 in some areas all the way up to £1 million. Since the Fund started, over 3,000 grants have been given to SMEs through programmes.

“We expect there will be stiff competition, so companies should take time over their application and demonstrate the benefits that support will bring. We want more businesses to benefit so that they can achieve their ambitions.”

Round 6 of the Regional Growth Fund will be launched in the summer of 2014 so that any companies who will not be ready to apply by December can start planning for applications in 2014.

Further information

1. The Regional Growth Fund is a flexible and competitive fund operating across England. It supports projects and programmes that are using private sector investment to create economic growth and sustainable employment.

2. Round 5 of the Regional Growth Fund opens on October 11 and will close to applications on 9 December at noon. Bids will be appraised as quickly as possible.

3. For more information, and further details of the expression of interest events in your areas please go to www.gov.uk/understanding-the-regional-growth-fund or email growthfund@bis.gsi.gov.uk  

4. Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will no longer be required to make separate bids to the Regional Growth Fund. In September 2013, BIS announced it will be making available an extra £100m for the Local Growth Fund in the period 2015-2017. This will provide extra flexibility to support priorities that LEPs will identify in their Strategic Economic Plans.

5. LEPs still have an important role to play in RGF Round 5 by supporting or endorsing private sector bids they feel will help them achieve their priorities for economic growth as well as delivering existing programmes.

Developing a Skills Strategy: A Data-Driven Approach -Worth a read

Interesting article by Hamilton Galloway – reposted FYI Jason I J Smith

Defining Industry Sector Skills

At the macro level, industry sector skills describe a broad range of competencies, including personal effectiveness, academic, workplace and other industry-required knowledge and skill competencies. In an ideal world, industry sector skill descriptions exactly document the technical competencies required in every economically important industry. From these descriptions, curriculum, qualifications and assessments can be built to meet industry specifications.

pyramidDeveloping an effective industry sector skills model is much like building a structure. Expertise of the sector and workforce is critical to success. Often times, however, experts struggle to articulate skill and competency needs in an effective manner. They will recite qualifications or specific technical capabilities, such as C++ programming or AutoCAD proficiency. But this kind of description typically fails to accurately describe industry workforce competencies at a holistic, macro level.

To achieve a bigger picture perspective, it is better to start with foundational building blocks and then move up to more specific technical and industry-related features. When constructing a competency model, Sector Skills Councils may be a good starting point to seek out current skill/model developments (for a listing visitSector Skills Alliance). In many cases, however, models have already been developed (some across the pond) and may only require slight alterations to be fit for purpose.

The US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration developed a tool calledCompetency Model Clearinghouse (CMC). Recognised in UKCES reports as ‘lessons from America’, CMC is a very handy starting point and employer engagement tool. Starting with foundational skills such as personal effectiveness, an individual (or more preferably a task force/committee) can navigate through the tool to identify and describe sector specific skills. The content structure of the model is broken into 5 tiers:

  1. Personal effectiveness competencies
  2. Academic competencies
  3. Workplace competencies
  4. Industry-wide technical competencies
  5. Industry-sector technical competencies

The CMC contains over 100 predefined competencies and key behaviours to choose from. If a competency or key behaviour is not listed, the user can simply define one to add. Once completed, the CMC produces a full-fledged description of the industry sector skills. The descriptions can be incorporated into research and reports, or used to engage employers to elevate the level of conversation and communication of education and workforce need. Within education, the descriptions can be further used to define and describe curriculum development, focusing specifically on learning objectives and identifying assessable outcomes.

Defining Occupation Specific Skills

CategoryTreeEquipped with perspective at the macro-level model, we can now move to the micro-level. We have viewed the forest and now we will inspect the trees. We know that sectors comprise many different occupations, which through coordinated and collaborative tasks produce a product/service for use by a consumer (e.g., a person, group of people, business, government organisation etc.). While businesses can typically describe in great detail the products or service that they produce, the average business struggles to describe the qualities and competencies of those responsible for producing their products or service. This undoubtedly is a contributing factor to the skills gap issue that we all hear so much about in the news.

In Part 1 of this blog series, we discussed these issues as a communication problem. Specifically, how can education or any labour researcher prepare for effective communication with businesses that will lead to clear actionable results? To answer this question, we turned to O*NET. Described at length in Part 1, O*NET provides a measured and descriptive structure to understanding occupation specific skills and competencies. In 2012, a feasibility study published through UKCES evaluated the potential and usefulness of developing an O*NET-style framework, measuring occupation skills profiles. The report notes:

Skills are a major policy priority both nationally and internationally. Yet we only have very imperfect measures of the skills available and in use in employment in the UK today. This report explores the feasibility of the development of a new and comprehensive set of detailed, multi-dimensional occupational skills profiles for the UK which describe the skills required by employers and used by individuals in the modern workplace. These occupational skills profiles can have a myriad of potential uses and users, including providing a much richer and deeper understanding of the changing patterns of the demand for skills in the UK, and informing individuals and those who advise them on the skills that are useful in employment today.

The report goes on to discuss the merits of O*NET and the relevant linkages between UK standard occupation classification (SOC) codes.

The fact of the matter is that EMSI has already developed such a system for use in the UK. EMSI’s knowledge and skill framework describes UK SOC codes at the 4-digit level across 42 different competencies. This enables education and workforce practitioners to develop profiles of occupations to further focus discussion and interaction with business, as well as better design courses and curriculum.

For instance, let’s assume you’re located in Tees Valley (Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, South Teeside and Darlington) and are working on developing a skills strategy focused on Engineering and R&D. You would have undoubtedly noted that the industries comprising Engineering and R&D have added more than 3,000 new jobs since 2008 (an increase of 65%). What might not be so clear is that three of the top 5 occupations typically require a level 3 NVQ or BTEC at level 3 and comprise 13.5% of the sectors jobs. Specifically, these are laboratory technicians, production, works and maintenance managers and draughtpersons.

(e.g. 7211 Research and experimental development in biotechnology; 7112 Engineering activities and related technical consulting; and 7219 Other research and experimental development on natural sciences and engineering

Given this impressive growth, one could safely assume that a continued demand for skilled workers is needed. In fact, opportunity for course development, expansion or re-evaluation might even be considered necessary. Skills profiles of the occupation demand would help guide this planning and strategy effort.

Let’s evaluate laboratory technicians. The occupation is growing and the number of job claimants relative to employment is extremely low (e.g., 33 claimants in April 2013 compared to approximately 1,400 workers currently employed across Tees Valley). The estimated annual demand for laboratory technicians is just under 50 for the next several years. Web chartGiven the rapid historic growth, however, the future could very well exceed these projections. Based on the UK O*NET description: Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions requiring the application of established or prescribed procedures and techniques to assist scientists with their research, development, analysis and testing. Their top skill attributes include high values in: Chemistry, Mathematics, English Language, Computers and Electronics, Reading Comprehension, Active Learning, Science, Writing, Critical Thinking, Active Listening and Learning Strategies. The radar chart displays the relevant knowledge and skill levels that are typically needed to effectively perform the job tasks.

Armed with the information presented above, a researcher, strategist or planner can now go forth and talk more effectively with businesses in the Engineering and R&D sector about laboratory technician workforce needs. The engager can articulate to businesses in a clear fashion what the ‘preliminary’ results indicate and seek feedback, comment and refinement. Moreover, the skill descriptors can now serve as a clearer foundation for communication of skills need and skill level. (NB: When a business says they need people who can do maths, the level and aptitude of maths required is not quantified. Is the business dealing with simple arithmetic or advanced algebra? Concerns like this must be kept in mind.)

Once education and workforce planners completely engage with businesses and receive feedback they will gain meaningful quantitative and qualitative information about skills and competencies. This information can be leveraged to build micro-level strategies at the education provider level, such as revising curriculum, identifying learning objectives, modifying assessments and so forth. As industry sectors and occupations evolve, maintaining a pulse on emerging business needs will be crucial to an area’s economic health. External outreach personnel within colleges, skills strategy experts within LEPs and sector skills councils can build both macro-level and detailed labour market intelligence into their business engagement efforts.

To learn how others have used this information for workforce and skills decision-making, please visit the following case studies:

Hamilton Galloway is an Economist and Senior Consultant at EMSI. He specialises in economic development, labour research and education planning, having also taught economics at college level for three years. Over the past several years, he has worked on dozens of research and strategic planning projects focused on reemployment, course development, skills gaps and target sector strategies.

If you are currently working in the skills strategy development space and would like more information on the products and services that EMSI can provide in support of these endeavours, please contact (enquiries@economicmodelling.co.uk). also  on Twitter and Facebook.

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No automatic agreement to local growth deals with LEPs, says Clark

The government will only agree growth deals with Local Enterprise Partnerships if ministers are confident that the funding and powers devolved will be exercised robustly, cities minister Greg Clark has warned.

Clark, who is also financial secretary to the Treasury, told a Conservative Party fringe event that there would be no automatic striking of deals with LEPs.

Under the proposals, which have emerged from Lord Heseltine’s review of local growth, LEPs will be able to bid for additional powers and a share of funding from a £2bn annual single pot. 

It had been thought that all 39 LEP areas would come to an agreement with Whitehall. Government guidance stated that a ‘growth deal for every place’ would be reached to ensure nowhere is left behind.

However, there would be ‘vigorous negotiation’ between LEPs and government when the pacts are being discussed, and it ‘is not automatic’ that agreements for all areas would be reached. 

‘If there are places taking on substantial budgets and powers currently vested in central government [and] if there isn’t the confidence that they’re going to be exercised well and robustly, then no deal will be done,’ he said.

‘It has to be a serious city or a county that will say, “We have the capacity, we have the ability, we have the vision, to do these things that are currently exercised by central government, and to do them locally”. And if that is demonstrated, we will say yes. 

‘So it’s going to be a vigorous discussion, and a lot depends on it, and the one thing you can count on is my desire to do these ideas if it is in the interest of both parties.’

from: http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2013/10/no-automatic-agreement-to-local-growth-deals-says-clark/

Divert New Homes Bonus to LEPs, says CBI

All of the New Homes Bonus funding intended to encourage councils to approve housebuilding should be given to Local Enterprise Partnerships to ensure construction of new properties is coordinated between authorities, the CBI has recommended. (from http://www.publicfinance.co.uk)

Building site
Photo: iStock

The business group said duties in the National Planning Policy Framework intended to ensure councils cooperate on housebuilding had not yet been effective.

The next regeneration report, undertaken with consultants EC Harris, said LEPs therefore needed ‘to play an active role, working with local authorities to plan for housing to support the whole local economy’ to support cooperation.

 

Councils should pool the money they receive through the NHB at the LEP level, so they are ‘incentivised to work more closely with one another to plan for sufficient housing’. This would also ensure the funding is invested in shared priorities for the local economy, the report stated.

 

Katja Hall, the CBI’s chief policy director, said pooling would ‘deal with some of the frustration we’ve pick up on about local authorities competing for relatively small pots of money, and try to look at how we can encourage local authorities to coordinate their activities’.

 

She added: ‘We’re suggesting that [the government] should route the New Homes Bonus through the LEP to encourage greater cooperation.’

 

The NHB is paid to councils to match the additional council tax raised on new homes for six years. Many authorities had included the cash in their indicative budgets, but the Treasury has already announced that £400m of the bonus would be top-sliced to create the Single Local Growth Fund. This has led to fears that vital infrastructure projects such as rural broadband and transport schemes could be put at risk.

 

The CBI report also called for a new partnership between public and private sectors to support regeneration and economic growth across the country. Among the recommendations was a call for annual business rate increases to be capped at 2% while a review of the system is undertaken.

 

Planning changes have also been recommended to make it easier to convert empty shops into homes, while the public sector balance sheet should be used to kick-start developments.
In particular, the government should lift restrictions on the use of Tax Increment Financing schemes by councils, the report stated.

 

Under the government’s localisation of 50% of business rate growth to local authorities, councils are able to borrow for infrastructure schemes that will unlock development, and pay back the loans with increased rates.
There are currently two different types of schemes. ‘Tif 1’ will see the increased rate revenue included in the localisation system of levies, top-up and tariffs, which means the extra income could be lost to councils when the system is reset in 2020.

 

‘Tif 2’ allows councils to hold onto all of the business rate growth for a period of 25 years outside the resets. However, the value of schemes that can proceed under this system has been capped at £150m.

 

This longer time period should be available for all Tif schemes, the report stated.

Local Enterprise Partnerships and Europe – a role for VCS?

When thinking of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) it is unlikely that until recently one would be likely to bring to mind such phrases such as social inclusion, social innovation or “community lead local development”.  Anyone attending The LEP Network conference in April 2013 – a gathering of the key influencers in the “LEPiverse” would have heard Mark Prisk MP talking about the role of LEPs in developing strategies for the allocation of European Funds[i]. Interestingly following this a panel of Chairs of LEPs was asked by an audience member what LEPs were intending to do for the Voluntary Community Sector (VCS)[ii] organisations.  The stark answer from the panel was “nothing”.

It was clear that at this time many involved with VCS organisations really didn’t understand what a LEP was and that conversely many involved with LEPs were unaware of the full implications of complying with European guidelines regarding development of an “inclusive economic growth” plan. Among these were EU and Government strategic priorities including:

  • Promoting social inclusion and combatting poverty
  • Investing in education, skills and lifelong learning
  • Promoting employment and supporting labour mobility
  • Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs
  • Ability to address – social innovation, sustainable development, equality and anti-discrimination

The problem has been a deep misunderstanding by each party – VCS organisations and LEPs – of what the others can do, or are capable of doing and a possibly even bigger misunderstanding of the language used by the other. Yet the reality is that if VCS organisations can learn to communicate in terms LEP board members understand then now is the time that LEPs should be willing to listen.  According to Ted Ryan of RAWM[iii] the support agency for voluntary and community organisations in the West Midlands area 20% of EU funds must go to social inclusion projects and these must be match funded.  Who better to deliver this than the bodies which are already addressing these as part of their core competencies and have proven record of finding the match funding from various sources including Big Social Capital and the Big lottery Fund.

At a recent conference in the Black Country, Chris Handy of Black Country LEP and Group Chief Executive of housing organisation the Accord Group told Social Enterprise representatives that in their presentation to LEPs they needed to understand that they cannot make out that they are a “special case” but must understand that often they will be dealing with “hard-nosed” LEP representatives who will want to be shown the ROI as a priority and possibly will be “turned off” at a sob story.  Clearly VCS organisations need to learn to speak the language of growth that LEPs need to hear – after all that is why LEPs were set up on the other hand LEPs need to understand that some VCS organisations can be valuable partners in delivering their strategic plans.

One VCS organisation that has really got to grips with this is UnLtd[iv] the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK.  In a report[v] due to be released soon they state they on average they provide support of £100,000 grant investment and £25,000 of staff resource per LEP.  They have developed a proposal explicitly addressed to LEPs to enable LEPs to work with Social Enterprises. For those VCS organisations wishing to receive support from LEPs there can be no better advice than to follow the lead shown by UnLtd – make your proposition simple and focus on the ROI

Tony Bray of BIS stated recently that in 2012 Social enterprises (including housing associations) showed growth of 57%, and a 58% growth in 2012. According to the same UnLtd report “Social Enterprises in the UK employ nearly 1 million people and contribute £18.5 billion to the economy”.  Surely these statistics if nothing else should be a wake-up call to LEPs.  Whilst of course there are other parties besides those in VCS in the mix that can help LEPs meet the requirements to successfully implement their strategies for EU funding,  there is little doubt that if LEPs and VCS organisations learn to communicate and work together there can be tremendous benefits for both in achieving their strategic aims.

My thanks and appropriate credit for their contribution to the following in producing this brief article: Ted Ryan [vi] of RAWM and Helen Ryman of UnLtd


[i] Following from the announcement November 2012 by The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) that EU structural funds for 2014 -2020 were to be directed through Local Enterprise Partnerships.

[ii] VCS organisations are broadly defined as the following: Civic Society, Civil Society, The Third Sector, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), The Voluntary Sector, Social Enterprises, Charities, Community groups

Nice summary of state of LEPland from @39LEPs Alex Pratt Chair @BTVLEP

Cookin’ in LEPland

During the summer, LEP kitchens have been cooking up EU Strategic Plans and blending local Growth Deals, the catalysts that should help us win the global economic race. Blockages are being identified that need help from Whitehall to be cleared away, so growth can be released and the jobs can flow. See cartoon history >

Reasons to be Cheerful (part 2)

UKTI and LEPS: The PM has called for closer links between UKTI and LEPs in our shared ambition to win the global economic race. The 39 LEPs are therefore now actively bringing UKTI, TSB and others into a closer relationship with the LEP Chairs.

Lighter Government

Now that times are tough we surely need more efficient, more aligned, more collaborative, more effective Government. This places a spotlight on those LEPs where every Local Authority is not fully committed to a home LEP. 16 of the 39 LEPs have overlapping areas. Should we not avoid too many cooks occupying the economic kitchen

Worcs LEP welcomes £4.9m investment in Hoobrook Link Road Project @wlep @thelepnetwork

Worcestershire LEP welcomes the announcement from the Department for Transport that £4.9 m has been awarded from its ‘Pinch Point’ fund to support the second phase of the Hoobrook Link Road development in Kidderminster.

The money will be used towards  the completion of the Link Road between the Stourport Road and the Worcester Road around Kidderminster.  This will open up the South Kidderminster Enterprise Park  as well as alleviating a local ‘pinch point’ comprising several roads with serious traffic congestion, particularly at peak times, and it will release further large areas of land for housing and employment development.

Peter Pawsey, Executive Chair at Worcestershire LEP, said: “One of the key objectives of Worcestershire LEP is to support the delivery of key transport infrastructure projects.  The Hoobrook Link Road will significantly relieve congestion on the road systems, improve access to the site and thereby facilitate the regeneration of this area.  It will help breath new life into Kidderminster.“

http://www.wlep.co.uk/lep-welcomes-investment-in-hoobrook-link-road-project/