Thursday, December 14, 2017

News: £36m of EU funding for Sheffield city region projects

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A number of projects to support businesses and help secure inward investment in the Sheffield city region (SCR) have been developed to utilise European funding, potentially the last such regional projects to start before Britain leaves the European Union (EU).

Structural funding from the EU is seen as integral to meeting the targets in the Local Enterprise Partnership's (LEP's) Growth Plan, which has set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the SCR by 2023.

The latest calls total £36.7m in EU funds and are asking for large scale projects in a number of areas including support for enterprise, supply chain development, research and innovation, inward investment and sustainable development. Funding is also available for projects to address skills issues and to support unemployed individuals at high risk of long-term unemployment.

Up to £2m is available for a project to promote the SCR area as a prime business location for foreign direct investment which is set to include marketing the region and providing aftercare support for inward investors.

Up to £2.4m is available for projects to increase entrepreneurship through outreach, advice and support. £3.6m is available for "revenue based proposals that seek to address SCR business's low propensity for innovation, stimulate demand and idea creation for innovation and productivity growth."

£2.2m is available to help strengthen the supply chain and ensure that local businesses can win more contracts whilst £1.4m is set aside to encourage a wider use of superfast broadband.

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The largest allocations are for low carbon projects and sustainable urban development. £7.1m is set to be used to back renewable fuels and energy projects with £8.4m for boosting the economy by using brownfield sites, addressing flood risk and improving the green infrastructure.

A skills hub is set to be created to complement existing support provided through the SCR Growth Hub and Skills Bank. The call states: "In order to implement an effective skills support infrastructure within SCR, the Combined Authority intends to deliver skills related support under a single, coordinated strategic framework and has identified the development of a bespoke local Skills Hub as the central pillar.

"The new Skills Hub will provide access to information, advice and guidance to businesses who require support on skills related matters across the Sheffield City Region."

With a new economic strategy focused on inclusion, the SCR is launching a project backed by £6m from the European Social Fund to address actual and perceived barriers to employment that individuals at risk of long term unemployment may face, for example confidence, health, housing, skills, debt and substance misuse.

With £1.6m allocated from the EU, a project is being funded to get more businesses working with local schools. The region wants to see "a mechanism for linking co-ordination of local employers with schools and young people to provide meaningful/inspirational experiences of the world of work, foster and encourage entrepreneurism and ensure young people can make informed education and career choices."

Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed last year that the Government will guarantee EU funding for structural and investment fund projects, signed after the Autumn Statement and which continue after the UK has left the EU (possibly in 2019).

The Government recently confirmed that following the UK's departure from the EU, it will launch the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, using money returning from the EU to provide funding for economic development and local growth across the UK.

Sheffield city region website

Images: European Commission

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