In April 2022 the council was allocated £5,885,134 from the government’s Shared Prosperity Fund designed to build pride in place and increase life chances across the UK. £770,711 of which must be used to support the national “Multiply” programme which aims to reach adults over the next three years to improve their functional numeracy skills.
In order to receive the funding an investment plan had to be submitted detailing the proposed schemes, benefits to the community and expected outcomes.
Following an evaluation process which included input from the public, private and voluntary sectors through the Town Deal Board and its Town Deal Investment Panel, 13 capital and revenue project proposals were agreed under the themes of people and skills, supporting local businesses and community and place.
Combined, the schemes will provide a wide range of support from physical town centre regeneration, through to direct business support encouraging existing and new business development, low carbon schemes and community skills and improved learning projects for residents.
Under the theme of people and skills the council sought to access £812,000 for three projects. The Youth Hub, now referred to as The Platform, which opened on Cookson Street earlier this year; will support disadvantaged 16 to 24 year old's to access the skills they need to progress in life and into work. Another scheme will provide intensive wrap around support to unemployed Blackpool residents living in the most disadvantaged wards who are furthest away from the labour market and the “Let’s get digital” project to improve digital inclusion.
£1.2 million has been allocated to supporting local businesses through a variety of schemes including enhanced business support to increase entrepreneur and business engagement.
Finally, £2.89 million will be allocated to community and place. This theme includes eco-coaching for residents, the establishment of an eco-hub and an incentive for resident property owners to invest in flood protection measures. Another scheme will provide infrastructure support to the Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise sector (VCFSE) The scheme would increase the capacity of the local VCFSE sector to deliver support to the community.
There are also ambitions to improve public realm and wayfinding in the town centre. The feasibility of extending the Grundy Art Gallery and Library and a review of the wider Queen Street area along with the continuation of Showtown’s community engagement project was also put forward.
The projects will be administered by the council and some delivered through a variety of external organisations through commissioning arrangements.
Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, said:
The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills.