A verbal update was
provided in regards to two of the key regional programmes that were assisting
to deliver the Regional Economic Delivery Plan (REDP).
It was noted that it
would be key to keep in mind the three missions within the REDP, as they were
important in guiding the way that the programmes were being deployed;
particularly the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) and the Transforming Towns
Shared Prosperity Fund
Officers explained that
there were a series of anchor projects on the key themes linked to the REDP;
the principle among these were the business development and employability
It was highlighted that
the programme was planned at a regional level, however delivery was being
tailored within each Local Authority area; this meant that each Local Authority
could move at a pace that was most appropriate to them and the scale of budget
allocation that they were granted by UK Government. Officers stated that the
regional dimension was there, however it was equally important to ensure there
was the flexibility to scale the pace and design according to local need.
Members were reassured
that the nature of the projects were broadly following along the lines of the
REDP; the advice and documentation that was given early on in the programme
were being acknowledged, and the projects that were coming in were consistent
with the delivery needed to start the implementation of the REDP.
The Committee was
informed that the anchor design enabled existing staff, within the teams at
each Local Authority, to make a start on the work reasonably quickly;
particularly for the creation and distribution of grants to small businesses,
and in the area of community development.
It was stated that the
level of commitment across the programme was very high, and the Local
Authorities were almost fully committed between the anchor projects and open
calls; with part of that being allocated to grant schemes that were open on an
as needs basis. Officers confirmed that there were still some open calls to be
concluded, particularly in Pembrokeshire; however, this exercise was due to be
completed by the Christmas period.
Officers added that
funding was moving quickly, and Local Authorities had worked well together in
getting this work to the point that it was currently at; this arrangement had
also allowed for smaller organisations to be the first to benefit, which hadn’t
always been the case in the past.
In regards to future
meetings of the Economic Wellbeing and Regional Economic Development Sub
Committee, Officers explained that they will be able to provide a comprehensive
overview of all of the finances in details, and the outputs that were being
achieved. It was explained that the system for this this had been built, and
the first claim period would end on 17 October 2023; once the submissions were
in, Officers will collate the data and produce a regional report which will
capture the performance of the programme across the Region.
It was explained that
the way in which SPF had been deployed, was built on the existing model in
place of the Transforming Towns Capital Programme; which was noted to be a
rolling capital programme of around £9million per year.
that the relationship between the four Local Authorities had matured since the
start of the delivery of this programme, in terms of being realistic about the
challenges faced by capital project delivery.
Members were informed
that a continual pipeline of schemes was maintained, both at a larger scale and
smaller scale. It was noted that the larger scale strategic projects were based
in the £250k+ grant band; the Region had numerous of examples of these types of
projects. The smaller scale grants were noted to be utilised for targeted
interventions in town centres.
It was stated that there
was a slight difference in the level of flexibility between the way in which
the SPF was able to be deployed, versus the Transforming Towns Programme;
however, the tools that the programme makes avaliable were having a visible
effect on all town centres across the Region, and helping to reinforce the
missions of the REDP.
Reference was made to
the town centre 0% interest loan option, which had been very helpful in
unlocking private sector development by helping to save off that interest; this
was particularly helpful to businesses in the current climate.
Officers concluded that
the range of tools avaliable across the Region provided Officers the steer to
be able to deliver against the REDP; between the gap filling that SPF was able
to provide, and the funding through the Welsh Government for the Transforming