Announced in March, the government’s Community Renewal Fund aims to ‘help support local areas to pilot imaginative new approaches and programmes that unleash their potential, instil pride, and prepare them to take full advantage of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund when it launches in 2022.’
One hundred priority places have been identified and each has a lead authority that will invite project proposals from a range of local applicants, such as district councils, voluntary and community sector organisations and local education providers, including universities. The lead authority will then appraise the projects and submit a shortlist of proposed projects up to a maximum of £3m per location to the government.
In the North East, nine local authority areas have made the priority places list (all except North Tyneside, Stockton on Tees and Sunderland) but applications are open to all areas. Projects with the majority of spend in priority places (51 per cent or over) will be considered to be a priority project.
The four investment priorities are as follows:
- Investment in skills
- Investment for local business
- Investment in communities and place
- Supporting people into employment.
The fund is interested in bids that build on local insight and knowledge, and project proposals that align with long-term strategic plans for local growth, targeting people most in need and supporting community renewal. The funding is 90 per cent revenue and 10 per cent capital.
Applicants are encouraged to maximise impact and deliverability through larger projects (£500k+) where possible, and to maximise leverage from other funding (but it's recognised that not all projects or applicants will be able to secure match funding, so this isn’t obligatory). Investment should also demonstrate the extent of contribution to net zero objectives or wider environmental considerations.
Timelines are tight – between March and May, local partners need to be working up bids and submitting them to their lead authority, which must appraise the bids and send their shortlist to government by June 18th. Successful projects will be announced from late July. Projects will need to be delivered between August 2021 and March 2022 – a period of nine months.
All lead authorities have their own local priorities, as set out in their Invitations to Bid, which can be found on the relevant websites (below) and should be read in conjunction with the government’s prospectus.
North East lead authorities:
- Areas covered: Darlington, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees (bids operating across local authority boundaries are especially encouraged)
- Deadline: May 14th, 2021
- Areas covered: Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland (all bids will be classified as being in a priority area, except for ones where over half of activity is in North Tyneside)
- Deadline: May 7th, 2021
- Area covered: Gateshead
- Deadline: May 14th, 2021
- Area covered: South Tyneside
- Deadline May 21st, 2021.
- Area covered: Sunderland (activities can also benefit adjacent local authority areas where cross-border and joint working is considered the most effective delivery mechanism)
- Deadline: May 17th, 2021
- Area covered: County Durham
- Deadline: May 11th, 2021
From a voluntary sector perspective, £500K will be a challenge for a lot of organisations and VONNE is exploring, along with local infrastructure colleagues, how it can support smaller organisations to come together. The key will be finding organisations to act as lead bidders. Contact VONNE at firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest in collaboration.