The Chancellor’s Spring Statement rang the bell for the start of Levelling Up Fund Round Two, triggering a period of concentrated effort by local authority officers and their civil service counterparts to ensure winners can be announced by the next fiscal event in the Autumn.
This follows the recent Levelling Up White Paper which prompted renewed calls for Government to review the way it allocates capital funding. Although there is willingness to rationalise the number of funding pots, there is no sign of it giving up on the competitive process.
We know from conversations with our clients that this creates a real dilemma in terms of the staff time and budgets they commit to bidding exercises with little, if any, capacity to be found in either without negatively impacting other activity and services.
There is understandable local pressure to submit bids, but there has to be a reality check on the chances of success, given these resource implications. This turns the focus onto the projects themselves and, specifically, their strategic alignment with national and local priorities, their likely socio-economic impact and overall deliverability.
We are working with local authorities across the country to help them prioritise and assess investment wishlists as part of assembling these potential bids. This involves critically assessing the likelihood of being able to pull together the detail and evidence base that will be necessary to score sufficiently strongly across the assessment criteria.
Authorities are also starting to consider what interventions and projects they will prioritise as part of their Shared Prosperity Fund Investment Plan and we are assisting with a similar scorecard process for this too.
For those involved in either bid or investment plan development, we have free online resources available to help, specifically our toolkit for improving the quality of bids by councils. We also recently recorded a webinar that examined the process for effectively bidding for funding with input from council colleagues who had achieved recent success.
Local Partnerships supports councils with project delivery as well as the initial project formation and development. We can help across the project lifecycle from scoping to completion, providing advice, capacity and the connections that help leverage the combined sector know-how and experience of successful project delivery.
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