Shared Prosperity Fund Priority 2 – Supporting Local Business

The Government has 3 investment priorities of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which relate to 7 of the 12 Government Levelling up Missions. These are the priorities that Local Government Agencies must consider when planning for the future of their Towns and Cities
SME’s account for 99% of the UK economy , providing three fifths of UK employment and approximately half the turnover in the UK private sector. (source:,in%20the%20UK%20private%20sector.) Increasing private sector investment is therefore crucial. Investing in local business, whether it be assisting entrepreneurial start-ups or assisting business acceleration or survival across various industries, will provide jobs and bring together the community.
This objective is more about businesses collaboration where partners and businesses across sectors, can share knowledge, expertise and resources to stimulate innovation and growth. It will target support for SMEs to commit to innovate, adopt productivity enhancing energy efficient and low carbon technology techniques, and to start to grow their exports. This will be measured by the number of potential entrepreneurs aided be business ready; the number of new businesses created; and the business survival rates.
There are two missions that guide interventions for this objective.
  1. By 2030, pay, employment and productivity will have risen in every area of the UK, with each containing a globally competitive city, with the gap between the top performing and other areas closing.
  2. By 2030, domestic public investment in Research & Development outside the Greater Southeast will increase by at least 40% and at least one third over the Spending Review period, with that additional government funding seeking to leverage at least twice as much private sector investment over the long term to stimulate innovation and productivity growth (with a UKSPF focus on helping businesses to access innovation support).
List of interventions and out puts  Places should review the interventions to identify activities that would work for them in their area.  They should also collaborate with other places to bring to fruition any larger scale activities where possible.
One of the aims of UKSPF is to contribute to a better evidence base for supporting local business support interventions. Each place and community are unique therefore it is important that Local Authorities also consider bespoke interventions to meet the needs of their community and place. They will need to provide further details on these in their investment plan such as including a Theory of Change, Logical Framework or Logic Chain
How are the WhatIf Group supporting this objective?
The WhatIf Group have experience of working with a large network of businesses across varying sectors as well as working with government agencies and councils. This includes working on the development and growth of Digital City in Middlesbrough, where through the support and growth of SMEs in the digital sector the area was able to develop one of the strongest clusters of technology businesses in the UK. This was a complex process of both business support and property interventions.  They bring this knowledge and expertise to enable the regeneration of Town Centre development, ensuring the collaboration takes place at all levels to achieve the best outcome for the project in line with the UK Prosperity Fund objective.
For example, the WhatIf Group were asked to engage in the development of Gateshead Old Town Hall – “we have been working to develop proposals for both the renovation of the two Listed Buildings and new build at this key site in the heart of Tyneside.  This development can positively influence the whole perception of Gateshead and bring much needed pride to a challenged Centre. An integrated, sustainable development building on the work the Council have already undertaken and bringing back into use two significant heritage assets for uses including provision for SME’s.”
Another major development is the Middlesbrough Heritage Quarter – the Kinetic team were already undertaking a stunning conversion of Commerce House as a serviced office business centre. This has led to a wider and more ambitious vision for this fantastic Conservation Area and promises to bring some real quality to the Centre of Middlesbrough, building on the massive rail investment, and the new direct London trains.
The WhatIfGroup have been helping develop a vision for the area, formulating strategy and identifying end occupiers. This will include further provision of high-quality serviced offices, set in a context of wider place making. “We have been looking at appropriate interventions, including further acquisitions, working with the Council and other stakeholders.  This development aims to bring much needed investment and energy to help Middlesbrough on its way to meeting its aspirations”.
At MediaCity, WhatifGroup has been working with Peel to reposition Quayside (former Lowry Outlet), diversifying uses and income streams. We have formulated a concept call the Well-Comm Centre. This is approximately 40,000 sq ft of uses connected to the well-being sector including NHS, skills, recruitment and education, art and a number of private sector practitioners. Included is a 10,000 sqft co-working space aimed at SME’s in the well-being sector to come together in an innovation hub.
Alongside a number of other phases, Quayside is positioning itself to become the new Town Centre of the growing Salford Quays.
Full details for the source of this article can be found at
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash            
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