The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has secured £85 million from the new Getting Building Fund announced by Government, which sought ‘shovel-ready’ schemes that would provide much-needed jobs, growth and the groundwork for further investment at this critical time.
Government’s new £900 million Getting Building Fund has been set up to invest in local infrastructure projects to drive economic growth in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
SELEP successfully secured the largest value for any LEP area in the UK from the fund. The £85 million will be used for several different projects across East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock, focusing on areas and industries that have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as those sectors that will provide the most help for the economy to bounce back.
The exact details of the package, including the pipeline of projects to benefit from the fund, is to be agreed with Government and will be confirmed by the LEP at a special Strategic Board meeting on the 16th July 2020.
As the key criterion for this funding was for projects to be shovel-ready, these projects will need to act fast to help provide a much-needed shot in the arm to the economy. Their focus will be on creating new jobs and helping workers either reskill for a new industry or develop skills in their career. The aim of these projects is to also stimulate further investment in the economy by providing digital capabilities, workspace for businesses, and infrastructure for housing or future transport schemes.
The focus of the new Getting Building Fund is to provide investment in schemes that will boost the economy following the impact of COVID-19. This includes investment in skills to help retrain workers; town centres to help our chains, independent retailers and SMEs; investing in digital capabilities and providing workspaces for businesses that are having to adapt their operations to be COVID-secure. There will also be projects that support the green agenda – a key focus of the LEP as we explore greener ways of working and travelling.
To better support our high streets, the LEP will work alongside the seven towns in the SELEP area that are in the process of bidding for their share – up to £25 million each – of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund. Working together, these two funding streams can have a bigger impact on communities by supporting projects that will boost footfall in town centres and help high street businesses adapt and diversify. Read more about the South East towns bidding for the Towns Fund.
SELEP Chair Christian Brodie said:
“The scale of this funding in such a short time period is unprecedented. We will now be focusing on getting this capital out of the door and into the communities that need it most – where it can make a difference as soon as possible. This funding could be the deciding factor between a business surviving or not, or people having a job in six months’ time or not. Therefore we are ensuring that we act quickly to get these projects up and running.
“The way we work, live and do business has changed. This stimulus package is designed to shape the future of how that looks in some of our worst hit areas, by allowing us to inject capital into industries and locations that desperately need a boost after months in lockdown. We want to revive, restore and spur businesses and individuals to move into this new economy.”
SELEP Chief Executive Adam Bryan added:
“We submitted a strong long-list of projects, which clearly demonstrated the need to invest in the South East as the catalyst for growth elsewhere. We are pleased that Government can see our potential, as evidenced by the funding package we have secured. The South East LEP has a proven track record of delivery. We are looking forward to getting started and creating new prospects for businesses and communities that are having to adjust to an entirely new way of working.”
LEPs were asked to put forward proposals for shovel-ready projects that could be delivered within the next 18 months. SELEP submitted a £573 million bid to Government for a long-list of 170 projects across East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. Read more about SELEP’s bid.