Employment Support: The Current Policy Landscape

May 2021

UK Community Renewal Fund/ UK Shared Prosperity Fund

Plans for the UK Community Renewal Fund continue to be rolled out, with a number of lead organisations having now put out calls for applications across the UK (which can be found in full here). The Fund will provide £220 million additional funding to help places across the UK prepare for the introduction of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It aims to support people and communities most in need across the UK to pilot programmes and new approaches and will invest in skills, community and place, local business, and supporting people into employment.

The UK Government has also designated 100 areas as ‘”Priority Places” to receive investment as part of the UK Community Renewal Fund, which will prioritise applications that target the top 100 places where they also demonstrate a good contribution to strategic fit and delivery/effectiveness. This does not mean that other places should not apply. Applications from other places who demonstrate strong alignment with strategic fit and good delivery/effectiveness may also receive funding.

The lead authority of each of the 100 priority places will also receive capacity funding to help them invite bids locally and appraise these bids. The list of priority places and lead authorities can be found here.

ERSA’s own resources related to the Fund can also be found in full here.

The UK Community Renewal Fund will help inform the design of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund through the funding of one-year pilots, but the funds are distinct with regard to design (including allocation approach), eligibility and duration. Successful UK Community Renewal Fund bids will be for 2021-22 only.

Investment from EU Structural Funds will continue to be spent by local areas until 2023, and the government has committed to at least matching EU receipts through the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund, on average reaching around £1.5 billion a year. This new Fund, to be formally launched in 2022, will operate throughout the UK and, in the Government’s words, “play a part in uniting and levelling up the whole country.”

The “Levelling Up” Agenda

The UK Government are currently placing a strong emphasis on the importance of their “Levelling Up” agenda and policy programme, with the CRF and forthcoming UKSPF discussed above being a key part of this work. To support this agenda, the government has launched three new investment programmes across the UK, specifically:

  • The UK Community Renewal Fund
  • The Levelling Up Fund
  • The Community Ownership Fund

The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund will invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets. You can find the prospectus for the Fund in full here.

The Community Ownership Fund is a new £150 million programme to help ensure that communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can support and continue benefiting from the local facilities, community assets and amenities most important to them. From summer 2021 community groups will be able to bid for up to £250,000 matched-funding to help them buy or take over local community assets at risk of being lost, to run as community-owned businesses.

This will form part of the UK government’s levelling up agenda, helping support recovery and building opportunity, with funding weighted towards places where community assets can make the most difference. You can find out more about the Fund here.

The Restart Programme

The winners of the forthcoming Restart programme were announced towards the end of April, following a DWP-administered open competition over the past several months. The Restart Programme is aimed at individuals who have been out of work for longer periods and may need extra help to move back into employment, and will be live across Wales and England from Monday 28 June onwards. The first referrals to the programme will commence from Monday 12 July.

You can find ERSA’s own interactive landscape of Restart provision across the UK here, and our various additional resources related to the programme here

The Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new jobs for 16- to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding, which covers:

  • 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
  • Associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • Any relevant workplace pension contributions (automatic enrolment)

Employers can spread the job start dates up until 31 December 2021, with funding ensured until 30 June 2022 if a young person starts their job on 31 December 2021.

The programme is a response to the disproportionate impact on young people in the labour market of the COVID-19 pandemic, and who have lost their jobs and claimed Universal Credit in greater numbers than any other age group over the past year. The scheme began in November 2020, and following a challenging initial implementation period, it was announced in January 2021 that employers are no longer required to have a minimum of thirty placement opportunities to be able to use the application process. ERSA continues to campaign for an extension to the Kickstart programme, which is still scheduled to end in December 2021.

Contact the team
[email protected]

Document Tag
Event Tag