Funding reward offered for ideas to revive local economy

People project planning

Ideas are being sought for community economic renewal projects - Credit: Sanuas

Organisations with fresh ideas to help boost Devon’s economy and help those people and businesses hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic are being urged to submit their bids into a new national fund.

The one-year Community Renewal Fund pilot could be worth up to £24million across Devon this year and is a trial for the government’s Shared Prosperity Fund.

The aim of the fund is to encourage innovative schemes to help kickstart the local economy by investing in skills, helping people into employment, supporting local businesses to grow and develop, and helping local communities become more resilient and sustainable.

The fund is open to schemes from the whole of Devon but a particular priority will be on the hardest hit and most deprived communities in need of an extra boost such as in West Devon and Torridge.

The county council, which has been chosen by government as the lead authority for Devon, is inviting project bids in line with priorities set out through the Team Devon Recovery Prospectus, as well as the Heart of the South West Local Industrial Strategy and Local Skills Report.

Key themes include digital inclusion, exploiting opportunities for business and employment growth in sectors such as green engineering, health and agritech, encouraging entrepreneurship and business start-ups, and a focus on the green economy.

In addition, the county council is particularly interested in schemes that will reduce economic and social inequalities across the Devon area, whether by supporting the most vulnerable residents or communities hardest hit during the pandemic, or that promote growth and job creation opportunities.

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This includes schemes targeting young people who have been so badly affected during the pandemic, those over 50 who lack basic skills, and those with a disability, mental or other health related barrier to employment and progression.

Keri Denton, head of economy and planning, said: “This is a real opportunity for organisations in Devon to come forward with fresh ideas to support our rural communities, towns and high streets to thrive and that embrace the opportunities presented by digital connectivity and the green economy, helping businesses to grow and residents to find new and better paid employment.

“The last year has had a huge impact on our local economy and this is particularly true for our most deprived and vulnerable communities and groups such as young people who have been so badly affected.

“That is why we are looking forward to receiving ideas that address some of these issues and that can inspire our communities to grow and develop in a sustainable way.

“We also hope that an innovative and high-quality submission full of great ideas will pave the way for more future funding from the Shared Prosperity Fund for Devon.”

Interested organisations are being encouraged to find out more and make bids at devon.cc/communityrenewalfund 

Applications to the Community Renewal Fund must be made to the council by Monday, May 17.

Final submissions to the government are expected to be made by Friday, June 18.

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