UK Shared Prosperity Fund: accounting officer assessment

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Background and context

The terms and conditions of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) were published during the 2020 spending review, when it was confirmed that the fund would grow to £1.5bn a year by 2024- 2025. The following year, during the Spending Review in October 2021, the Chancellor confirmed that the fund would be worth over £2.6bn over a 3-year period.

In February 2022, the Leveling Up white paper was published, setting out the government’s intention to improve livelihoods and opportunities in all parts of the UK. The UKSPF is a central pillar of the upgrade program and the UKSPF Prospectus was launched on April 13, 2022. It confirmed local allocations for investment by March 31, 2025, all parts of the UK receiving stipend via formula funding rather than competition. . This recognizes that even the wealthiest parts of the UK contain pockets of deprivation and need support.

The UKSPF will act as a successor to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The Fund was designed to provide a degree of continuity and an increased level of local leadership as the UK moves to a national approach. The Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) will be responsible for the overall implementation of the Fund, working in partnership with a range of UK government departments, including the Department for Education (DfE) which will lead the Multiply element of the Fund in England. By taking a strategic and collaborative approach, the UKSPF provides the opportunity to respond effectively and efficiently by targeting local priorities.

The prospectus outlines how funding will be provided across the UK and how an investment plan will be developed for all regions of the UK. The Fund’s interventions will be planned and implemented by councils and municipal authorities in England and regional groupings in Scotland and Wales – the ‘lead authorities’, working closely with local partners and Scottish governments and Welsh.

In Northern Ireland, DLUHC will work closely with local partners to design a Northern Ireland investment plan that reflects the needs of Northern Ireland’s economy and society.

Assessment against accounting administrator standards

Convenience

The Fund is focused on building pride in being local and increasing life chances and will be delivered through three investment priorities: Communities and Place, Local Businesses, and People and People. skills. Engagement with partners, including local government and devolved administrations, has informed the development of nation-specific funding methodologies.

The UKSPF funding methodology provides a degree of continuity as the UK moves away from EU funding while targeting needs and using rational and relevant criteria to achieve the policy objective.

As all areas received allocation through this funding methodology, there was no need for a recusal process.

Global evaluation

My assessment is that the ownership criterion is met.

Value for money

The interventions available under the program were considered in the program’s business case and benefit-cost ratios were constructed from the assessments of each investment priority to assess value for money. DLUHC officials worked with subject matter experts across government, with devolved administrations and with local government representatives, to include key considerations around the strategic rationale, arguments for intervention and available evidence to support “what works” and “value for money” cases.

Although DLUHC has conducted a program level assessment of the strategic fit and evidence base of these interventions, it is not possible to make a robust and definitive assessment of their value for money at the project level. , as this will differ from project to project and location to location. base.

Where local authorities wish to carry out ‘tailor-made’ interventions, they will provide evidence that these projects will offer good value for money. Off-menu interventions will be subject to a more detailed assessment by the DLUHC and other relevant ministries (if applicable) to ensure that strategic fit, value for money and deliverability are achieved to a satisfactory degree.

As the program is fully delegated in England, Scotland and Wales, local authorities will have a duty to ensure value for money at the project level. In Northern Ireland, this responsibility will rest with DLUHC.

To further safeguard value for money, reporting and evaluation requirements placed on grantees will help monitor the delivery of expected outputs and outcomes. These requirements are set out in section 9 of the UKSPF Prospectus and further information will be included in monitoring and evaluation guidance to be published by autumn 2022. The department retains the ability to defer, redefine or withhold subsequent grant payments when authorities fail to meet agreed milestones and request that underspending be returned to the ministry.

Global evaluation

My assessment is that the price-performance ratio test is satisfied.

Feasibility

Investments will be selected from the “menu of options” and investment plans will undergo an appraisal process within the DLUHC before any funding is provided to local areas. The feasibility of individual projects will be assessed by local authorities.

Where local authorities choose to undertake tailor-made interventions, they will be subject to more rigorous assessment by the DLUHC, including input from other ministries as appropriate, to ensure that they are feasible and achieve the goals. political goals.

The UKSPF Prospectus (section 9) sets out a requirement for local authorities to provide regular qualitative and quantitative progress reports, providing the department with an early indication of places that are underperforming or at risk of doing so. This will allow the ministry to work with affected locations to take action to improve performance. It may also result in reduced delegation, reduced payment terms, or withholding of funds in the affected area.

Global evaluation

My assessment is that the feasibility test is satisfied.

Regularity

DLUHC holds the authority to provide the funding necessary to achieve the objectives of the program under Section 50 of the UK Home Market Act 2020. The required HMT approval was provided as part of the program business case and is affordable within budgets.

In England, Scotland and Wales, delivery of the program will be fully delegated to local authorities.

In Northern Ireland, responsibility for compliance with UK law will rest with the DLUHC, including grant monitoring, procurement, data monitoring and equality obligations.

No additional legislation is needed for the scheme as it will operate within the existing UK legal framework.

Global evaluation

My assessment is that the regularity test is satisfied.

Conclusion

The business case for the UKSPF program was reviewed on 9 March 2022 and found to be a robust and efficient use of public resources.

This summary confirms that the program has met the criteria set out in Managing the Public Money and outlines the key points that have informed my decisions to date. If any of these factors change materially during the life of the program, I agree to provide a revised summary, setting out my assessment of them.

This summary will be published on the government website (GOV.UK). Copies will be deposited in the Library of the House of Commons; and sent to the Comptroller and Auditor General and Treasurer in charge of accounts.

Jeremy Pocklington

May 26, 2022

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