26 August 2022

Councillors endorse £8.3million Shared Prosperity Fund investment plan for Aberdeenshire

Councillors have endorsed a 3-year investment plan for the use of an £8.3million UK Shared Prosperity Fund allocation to Aberdeenshire.

At a meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee on Thursday, Aug 25 it was agreed to delegate the submission of an investment plan to the UKGovernment to the Head of Planning and Economy Paul Macari.

It is proposed that the funds are allocated to a number of multi-annual programmes which will provide grants to a wide range of community, private and public organisations to deliver specific projects.

The criteria and governance processes for awarding funds will be approved by Full Council prior to grant applications being invited, with community engagement being a key priority throughout the lifespan of the programme.

The fund’s prime objective is to build pride in place and increase life chances across the UK, aiming to empower places to invest in local priorities with the Aberdeenshire bid focusing on Communities and Place, Local Businesses and People and Skills.

Under the proposals, more than £2.6milllion allocated to Communities and Place will aim to strengthen our social fabric and foster a sense of local pride and belonging, through investment in activities which enhance physical, cultural and social ties and access to amenities, such as community infrastructure, local green space and community-led projects.

It is also focused on building resilient, healthy and safe neighbourhoods, through investment in quality places in which people want to live, work, play and learn in, through targeted improvements to the built environment and community measures to reduce the cost of living.

Similar investment in Local Businesses will aim to create jobs and boost community cohesion, through investments that build on existing industries and institutions, and range from support for starting businesses to visible improvements to local retail, hospitality and leisure sector facilities.

Projects will promote networking and collaboration through interventions that bring
together businesses and partners within and across sectors to share knowledge, expertise and resources, and stimulate innovation and growth.

The People and Skills programme will receive more than £2.7million aimed at boosting core skills and supporting adults to progress in work, including targeting adults with no or low level qualifications and skills in maths and upskilling the working population, yielding personal and societal economic impact, and by encouraging innovative approaches to reducing adult learning barriers.

Another key priority will be reducing levels of economic inactivity through investment in bespoke intensive life and employment support tailored to local need. Projects will also support people furthest from the labour market to overcome barriers to work by providing cohesive, locally tailored support including access to basic skills, while also supporting local areas to fund gaps in local skills provision to support people to progress in work, and supplement local adult skills provision.

Infrastructure Services Committee chair Cllr John Crawley explained: “One of the most significant investments under the Communities and Place banner will be £1.5million in capital funding for projects supporting place-based investments, regeneration and town centre improvements across Aberdeenshire.

"This will help develop community assets and infrastructure, make improvements to the natural environment, green and open space and also help in the design and management of both our built and landscaped environment.”

Vice-chair Cllr Isobel Davidson added: “The Shared Prosperity funding will enable us to deliver £1.85million in advisory services and grants to businesses and social enterprises which will support small and medium-sized enterprise development, create local entrepreneurial ecosystems and provide expert business advice and support programmes.

"Capital funding of around £800,000 will allow us to unlock the development of industrial sites where demand or need has been identified, but which would otherwise not be commercially viable.”