Why the design of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund must include a significant role for community economic development
“With the right support, communities have the potential to be incubators and platforms for inclusive wealth creation in otherwise challenging circumstances. And community can also be a means through which people gain much needed agency, ownership and control in the economy."
In this concise paper we make the case for allocating 20 percent of the Shared Prosperity Fund for community economic development, prioritizing the participation of people in the most deprived parts of the UK.
Summary of paper
After Brexit, the UK government has promised to replace EU Structural and Investment Funds with a new Shared Prosperity Fund, which it says will be used to reduce inequalities and deliver sustainable, inclusive growth everywhere in the UK.
The Shared Prosperity Fund provides a golden opportunity for government and local leaders to support the evolution of a more inclusive economy. Evidence suggests that a good way to ensure economically disadvantaged people in deprived places benefit from the Shared Prosperity Fund will be to empower them in its governance, while simultaneously harnessing the power of their communities to address the economic, social and geographic barriers to inclusive growth that operate within their region.
Community should be understood by policymakers as a foundation of shared prosperity, to be strengthened alongside infrastructure, place and so on. But we should learn the lessons of the past and ensure place-based community empowerment has the right investment, support and focus to catalyze deep and lasting improvements in economic opportunities and outcomes. Crucially, with the right support, communities have the potential to be incubators and platforms for inclusive wealth creation in otherwise challenging circumstances. And community can also be a means through which people gain much needed agency, ownership and control in the economy.
Around 20 percent of the Shared Prosperity Fund should be ring-fenced for a process known internationally as community economic development (CED), prioritizing the participation of communities in the most deprived parts of the UK. CED is a process through which people living, working and running businesses in an area work together through a community partnership to effect change in the economy, so that it better supports their shared aspirations in terms of opportunities, livelihoods, enterprise, local resources, markets and wealth flows.
CED Partnerships should be established at a sub-LEP level (in England) and be made up of local businesses, community organizations, residents and, in a facilitative role, local authorities.
This part of the Shared Prosperity Fund should be distributed in two tranches. First, seed funding should be provided to establish CED Partnerships and develop CED Plans, in a process taking up to two years. Then, once CED Plans are agreed, a much more significant second tranche should be released to fund their implementation, in a process lasting at least five years.
CED Partnerships should also be given a powerful role in holding LEPs (in England) to account and in informing city/regional economic strategy.
Co-operatives UK members can provide feedback and suggestions on this proposal by emailing our policy officer: [email protected]