UK Shared Prosperity Fund: Place Based Business Support Delivery
Decision Maker: Economy Regeneration & Housing Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The Director of Regeneration and Place introduced a report which provided details of the Council’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) Place Based Business Support (PBBS) grant funding allocation of £952,320 from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA).
The report set out recommendations for how the Council should utilise the grant to deliver the required outputs and activities. The grant funding presents the opportunity to achieve savings against the Council’s revenue budget. The Council has commissioned Wirral Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WCC) under contract to deliver the Business Support Service (BSS) until 31 December 2023, with the option to extend delivery to 31 December 2025. It is proposed that the BSS Contract is varied to incorporate PBBS outputs and be part-funded from the Council’s UKSPF PBBS allocation. The PBBS allocation will also enable the commissioning of additional specialist interventions to support growth in key sectors and clusters and the funding of two full-time equivalent council staff posts during the UKSPF grant funding period.
Resolved – that
1. the expenditure of the UKSPF allocation to deliver Place Based Business Support as outlined in paragraphs 4.1 to 4.7 of this report be authorised
2. the Director of Law and Governance, in consultation with the Director of Regeneration and Place be authorised to enter into an extension of the Business Support Service contract with Wirral Chamber of Commerce and Industry for an additional two years from 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2025.
Reasons for the decision:
Cost saving: Utilising the UKSPF PBBS grant allocation to fund a proportion of the Business Support Service and council staff costs will temporarily reduce planned revenue costs of £561,963 (2023/24: £176,679, 2024/25: £385,284).
Mobilisation: Given the time constraints of the UKSPF funding, the Council needs to commence delivery of funded activities as soon as practically possible. The Council is well positioned to quickly mobilise a seamless approach to delivering UKSPF PBBS outputs and activities within the current contractual provisions.
Performance and experience: BSS contract performance to date has met or exceeded equivalent outputs to those required in the UKSPF PBBS Grant Funding Agreement, representing an effective proven delivery route for this provision.
Consistency of service: The BSS has operated as a commissioned service since June 2017. Maintaining a consistent, high quality, universal offer ensures that businesses continue to benefit from a recognised, ‘one front door’ access point to publicly funded business support in Wirral.
Investing in growth: PBBS funding presents a low-risk, low-cost means to invest in the growth of emerging sectors that support Wirral’s Economic Strategy and enable regeneration. Investing a proportion of the PBBS allocation on additional specialist interventions will accelerate growth in the borough.
Alternative options considered:
Commission new Place Based Business Support activity, in addition to the existing, contracted BSS: This risks a duplication of the BSS offer creating a confusing landscape for local businesses.
It would not relieve in-year budget pressures and would reduce Wirral Council’s timeframe to achieve PBBS outputs. 2.2 Commission a new BSS, integrating UKSPF Place Based Business Support from January 2024: Wirral Council has an established and recently recommissioned service (2022) following a comprehensive review which fulfils the aims of the PBBS. A new commission would reduce Wirral Council’s ability to achieve PBBS outputs.
Report author: Ben Lavell
Publication date: 18/09/2023
Date of decision: 18/09/2023
Decided at meeting: 18/09/2023 - Economy Regeneration & Housing Committee
Effective from: 26/09/2023