West Lindsey District Council has submitted its Investment Plan to the Government, which sets out how it will spend its allocation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
A total of £2.7 million has been set aside for us but in order to access the fund, along with other councils nationally, it has to identify activities that will be right for the district and get Government approval.
Twelve interventions have been selected by the council, which will focus on three key areas, linked to the Corporate Plan:
- Communities and Place
- Supporting Local Businesses
- People and Skills
Councillor Owen Bierley, Leader of West Lindsey District Council said:
“This funding will help us to address many challenges and opportunities in our local communities. Our investment plan is about connecting people, building pride in our communities and place, supporting businesses and boosting the skills and life chances of individuals throughout our district.
“All our interventions are based on evidence of need and have been prepared following stakeholder engagement. We strongly believe our investment plan will have the greatest impact in our district and we cannot wait to get started on these exciting initiatives.”
The Shared Prosperity Fund is the UK Government’s replacement for the EU funding following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Interventions highlighted by us, include creating a flagship community grants programme that will create new and improved community facilities and boost engagement with the community. This will help to tackle social isolation and loneliness as more than 12% of adults in West Lindsey said they felt lonely "often" or "always" (national average 7.2%).
A multi-event signature programme is also proposed along with improvements to walking and cycling paths across the district to improve the leisure and health and wellbeing opportunities.
The majority of businesses in West Lindsey are micro businesses (90%) and there is relatively low level of new job postings. The vibrancy of the district’s economy has been ranked 263rd out of 324 and due to the impacts of COVID-19, our visitor economy has shrunk.
Director of Planning, Regeneration and Communities, Sally Grindrod-Smith said:
“If we want to create a strong, stable, diverse and self-sustainable business environment then we need to support our local businesses.
“Our Investment Plan looks at developing a flagship West Lindsey Business Support Programme to tailor advice and guidance to local village and retails centres. Along with a new grant scheme for business led sustainability improvements to increase employment opportunities. West Lindsey does have ambitious plans to support inclusive growth and regeneration of our communities and in order to maximise the impact of this fund we aim to develop the best in class approach.”
The fund will also look to support and expand the delivery of the West Lindsey markets action plan. It focusses on increasing the number of people visiting and spending money creating more sustainable local markets and businesses.
Educational attainment rates are an area of relative weakness in West Lindsey. A number of interventions are proposed by us, to create a happy, healthy, productive workforce that is trained and employed in the area.
This includes working with the voluntary and community sector to address barriers for work particularly in the labour markets and improve skills based on the specific needs of local employers.
As well as developing local plans for investment, the West Lindsey UK Shared Prosperity Fund Investment Plan also highlights wider challenges for our area including access to health care, public transport provision and the availability of further education opportunities. We will be looking to partners and the government to discuss and make plans to address these wider issues in order to realise the potential to truly "Level Up" our area.
The Government is expected to make the first payments to councils in October 2022 after reviewing the plans.