How does the UK Shared Prosperity Fund Provide Funding and Support Businesses In Local Areas?

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What is the UK Shared Prosperity Fund?

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a £2.6 billion funding pot issued by the UK Government covering a funding period between April 2022 and March 2025. The main goal for this domestic fund is for it to help carry out Levelling Up activities across the UK. The funding directly replaces funding lost as a result of the UK leaving the EU and therefore no longer being part of the the European Structural and Investment Fund Programme. 

What does Levelling Up Mean For Businesses?

It has been the case that there are geographical inequalities across the UK in terms of prosperity opportunities for businesses, where certain locations in the UK do not have the same success rates for commercial gain as some of the larger towns and cities or outside of the South of England. The levelling up concept looks to reduce inequality and help businesses prosper in more deprived areas and boosting entire communities.

Who Has Received Money To Provide UK Shared Prosperity Funding Support?

UK local authorities, such as councils, unitary authorities, metropolitan districts or London Boroughs have all been allocated a share of the £2.6bn UK Shared Prosperity Fund to be distributed between April 2022 and March 2025. Some of the money allocated goes to other local goals, such as Communities and Place and People and Skills, but a significant amount in each area is allocated to Support for Local Businesses activities.

Once allocated, local authorities determine from their allocation what they are going to budget towards supporting local business activities.

How Much Money Is Available in a Local Area to Support Local Businesses?

The total funding size awarded and allocated towards supporting local businesses varies from area to area, depending on size and other factors. 

However, if we look at an example case of Powys in Wales, as of January 2024, a total of 32 projects have been awarded Shared Prosperity Fund money, worth a total of £5.24 million over a 12 month recorded period towards helping boost business investment and creating jobs in the county.

This is out of a total of £25 million that has been awarded to Powys as part of levelling up funding across multiple themes to last until 2025, so means a significant amount of remaining funds will go to further supporting businesses in the area. So it is the most significant amount of domestic funding away from the EU that has been made available in many years. 

Part of the funding awarded to the 32 projects includes initiatives to support business growth and entrepreneurs, converting and upgrading workspaces, improving the visibility of town centre businesses using digital marketing as well as providing direct funding to businesses to help safeguard or create new local jobs.

This type of financial boost for businesses will have been replicated in other parts of the country based on local fund decision makers and the identification of specific local business needs.

What are the 2 routes councils can use UK Shared Prosperity Funds to provide support to businesses?

Route 1: Indirect Funding and Support

Providing business support organisations or making available a council led scheme using some funding that provides businesses with selected support without awarding them any grants. For example, a business start-up mentoring scheme, employee training schemes or carrying out energy efficiency audits at workplaces.

Route 2: Direct Funding Grants

We are most interested in Route ii) Direct Funding Grants and will cover some examples of some of the local schemes that have been available up and down the country so far. 

What Are Some Examples Of Business Direct Funding Schemes That Have Been In Operation So Far?

Councils can spin out a pool of money to award grants for a specific purpose to local businesses that they can then directly apply for. For example, business growth capital funding, purchase of energy efficient equipment or funding to carry out expansion projects that they have unable been able to secure private funding for.

There are many schemes directly supporting businesses with the opportunity to apply for grants as part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund pot, but here are some varied examples from around the country that show how in both smaller and larger communities, urban and rural settings, the funding directed in the right manner specific to the local needs can make a difference.

i) Green Funding in Tonbridge and Malling

8 businesses in Tonbridge and Malling in Kent were awarded a share of £40,000 as part of an initiative to help reduce energy costs for businesses of all sizes by helping purchase energy efficient equipment or adopt other energy efficient measures. This includes the installation of solar panels, purchase of induction ovens, LED lighting or developing extended vehicle battery usage. This is a multiple round scheme, so funding will continue to be available to support local businesses in this area

ii) City of Newport Business Grants to Support Purchasing of Equipment for New and Established Businesses

Running until 2025, businesses in the city of Newport, Wales are invited to apply for matched funding for the purchasing of equipment that is essential for the establishment of a new business or enables an existing business to grow substantially. Businesses can work with the council’s expert business services team to assess eligibility.

iii) Shropshire Launches Small Capital Grants Scheme to Overwhelming Interest

In March 2024, Shropshire Council’s dedicated UK Shared Prosperity Fund team launched a Small Capital Grant Scheme for Business aimed at helping local businesses create new employment opportunities or develop new products, processes, or services within their business or as part of a new business project. Within a week, hundreds of Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from local businesses had been received and it meant that the council had to temporarily pause the application process in order to deal with the expressions of interest sent so far. The council has assured further interested businesses that even if a large number of businesses that have applied so far are awarded grants, a significant amount of funding will still be available at a later date when applications re-open.

iv) Fenland Businesses Awarded Funding to Create New Jobs and Safeguard Existing Ones

8 Businesses across the March, Wisbech and Chatteris area of Fenland have been awarded a share of £192,788 of matched grant funding to identify areas in their businesses which they can create new local jobs to assist growth or identify key at risk roles that they need to help safeguard when dealing with rising costs of doing business. An additional £450,000 as part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund of similar grants from Fenland for Business will be available in the 2024/2025 financial year.

How Long Does It Take for Money to Be Awarded Upon Successful Grant Application?

According to Swansea Council’s official terms and conditions on grant funding being awarded as part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and is considered to be UK-wide standard practice, the rules are as follows. 

Once a project has been approved for a grant award, something which is dependent on the grant deadline, or on regular panel approval meetings by councils, if funding is awarded on a rolling basis, certain requirements must be completed before the grant is awarded.

Council claim processes operate quarterly in line with a UK Government reporting window. It is a standard practice for grants to be paid in arrears once actual expenditure has been incurred on a project and money has been defrayed. 

Once a completed claim is received against eligible expenditure as described in the business funding application, then the council will pay the grant to the project, subject to financial verification checks.  

It is worth noting that there may be exceptional circumstances where a portion of the grant funding can be released to a business to get the project started, subject to a risk assessment being carried out on the business to determine its financial health.

Local authorities do not want to award funding to projects that are unlikely to be completed or end up failing due to the insufficient preparation or some kind of available financial input from the business itself. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is designed to back as many successful projects as possible. This means that there are strict requirements and eligibility criteria that businesses must take into account before applying. 

Want To Find UK Shared Prosperity Fund Grants for Businesses In Your Local Area?

If you want to see the full set of UK Shared Prosperity Fund grants currently open in your local area, please visit