UK Shared Prosperity Fund

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Where we are now: 

Specialist employment programmes, such as The Salvation Army’s Employment Plus service, work with people who might otherwise struggle to access help to find training, education, and employment. In supporting people to find work and build their careers, specialist employment programmes are also vital for reducing wider social and economic inequalities.

As the new government looks to ‘level up’ different areas of the UK, well-resourced and effective specialist employment programmes will be essential to improving the health of individuals, local communities, towns and cities.

Previously, the European Social Fund (ESF) provided one of the main sources of funding for specialist employment programmes across the UK. As the UK prepared to leave the EU, there had been widespread concern amongst providers of specialist employment services across the charitable and private sectors as to exactly how this funding would be replaced.

In response to these concerns, as part of its 2019 Election Manifesto, the new government has committed to ‘ensure that £500m… is used to give disadvantaged people the skills they need to make a success of life.’ This investment will be made as part of the government’s replacement for ESF: the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

The Salvation Army welcomes this announcement. However, there is still a need for further detail to explain how this new investment will work in practice, and crucially how it will reach those most need. In the absence of this information and the certainty it would provide, there is a risk that specialist employment services will cease to operate, leaving people without the support they need to access education, training, and employment.  

Where we want to be:

Further to our work and research on the UKSPF so far, The Salvation Army is working across the political and charitable spectrums to ensure that further information on the design of the UKSPF is published as soon as possible. We are also working hard to influence the design of the UKSPF. To guarantee that the UKSPF continues to allow specialist employment services to benefit individuals, local communities, and towns and cities across the UK, The Salvation Army is campaigning for a fund that:

  • is locally focussed, taking into account the characteristics of local areas and needs of local people;
  • prioritises inequality, developing a clearer understanding of what constitutes ‘inclusive growth’;
  • is flexible to economic shocks, including the ability to adapt to unexpected events such as plant closures in areas where a single employer employees a significant proportion of the local population; and
  • is streamlined, removing unnecessary bureaucracy and reducing waiting times. 
ERSA report case study

An ERSA report sponsored by Shaw Trust and The Salvation Army

Evidence from the employment support sector and partners, on how the UK Shared Prosperity Fund can best serve communities across the UK.

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