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Making the most of every penny - Council sets out plans to spend Shared Prosperity money

East Ayrshire Council’s plans to put their successful bid for a portion of the UK Government’s £2.6 billion Shared Prosperity Fund to good use were set out and approved at this week’s Cabinet meeting.

To gain access to the funding, local authorities were asked to complete an investment plan, setting out how they intend to use and deliver their share of the UK wide fund. This was co-ordinated by the Council’s Head of Economic Growth, working in conjunction with a wide variety of Council services and partner organisations across East Ayrshire.

The plan, which has now been approved by the UK Government, sets out high level ambitions for the area, including funding for employment initiatives and skills development, and new measures to help the most disadvantaged through the cost of living crisis. It also includes initiatives designed to reduce inequalities across all communities.

The plan identifies four investment priorities:

  • Communities and Place
  • Supporting Local Business
  • People and Skills
  • Multiply (An adult numeracy programme)

These priorities will be addressed with support for 13 projects covering East Ayrshire with a total spend of £6.103 million up until 31 March 2025.

Commenting on the plan’s approval, Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council said: “All the projects proposed in this plan support the delivery of our existing strategic plans, helping us strengthen our support for improving community safety, providing skills development, employment and business growth opportunities while also improving community wealth building and wellbeing.

“We’ve already had great success with our employability hub at SL33 in Kilmarnock, and this funding will enable us to continue with our expansion into similar hubs in Darvel and Cumnock while updating the BTTC hub in Dalmellington. We know how important it is to have employability teams embedded in local areas, and we’ve already seen the benefits for those seeking new opportunities for training and work.

“As ever our focus is on community led regeneration – we know that the best people to make decisions about priorities for our communities are those who work and live there. So some of this funding will be used to support feasibility studies and community based projects.

“It will also boost our Business Support programmes, helping us deliver specialist advice and practical help to companies as we all seek to decarbonise to meet NetZero targets. 

“At the same time we’ll be allocating £400k to help with Employment Growth – enabling companies to grow their workforce through apprenticeships, interns and training, to equip them with employees with the skills they need for the future.

“Our BeReady programme is instrumental in helping businesses evolve to fit the new economic and Net Zero environment, so this funding will help bolster their efforts.

“Thriving business and third sector organisations are vital components in a healthy, prosperous local economy, and they depend on having a skilled, enthusiastic and motivated workforce. With the ageing population, the economic situation and the effects of Brexit and the pandemic, we need to concentrate more than ever on bringing on our young people and re-skilling others to fill gaps, adapt to new technologies and ways of working and carry the area forward to a bright future.  That’s also why we’ll be using some of this funding for our supported employment programmes, helping bring people who have missed education because of social, health and other factors back into the workforce with all the support they need.

“Finally we’ll be putting resources into the “Mulitply” projects, aiming to create and deliver a “Money MOT” programme run in conjunction with SQA accreditation. It will take the form of a course for adults and families to gain money lifeskills and financial literacy, with a specific focus on improving numeracy. 

“Together with the Money MOT, the Financial Inclusion Pathways project, which has already had great success in helping individuals break down the barriers preventing them from working or achieving a healthier, happier and more secure lifestyle, the Multiply projects will go some way to make a real difference in lifting people out of poverty and debt and building a brighter future for themselves, their families and their communities.

“Of course this is a short term funding boost and we have to be realistic in how much it can achieve in the face of the current climate, however we’re confident that our plan will make the most of every penny available to help us to continue to meet our long term objectives for the good of all who live and work in East Ayrshire.”