Decision details

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Funding Programmes

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


The Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report setting out the action being taken by the Council to take advantage of three funding streams recently announced by the Government to support its Levelling Up agenda.  Attached to the report at Appendix 1 was a summary of the key aims and ‘missions’ of the Levelling Up White Paper.


The report explained that the £2.6 billion UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) replaced EU Structural Funds and aimed to build ‘pride in place’ and improve life chances.  The Council had received a conditional £1 million core funding allocation for the three years commencing 2022/23, subject to Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) sign-off on an Investment Plan to be prepared by the Council by the deadline of 1 August 2022.  The Council was engaging local partners in the development of the Investment Plan, which would explore interventions that promoted collaboration at a pan-Berkshire level, that supported businesses and community enterprises in Reading to achieve their potential with a focus on creative industries, that prepared people for work through training, development and upskilling with a particular focus on those furthest from the labour market and more deprived neighbourhoods, and that provided match support to other funding initiatives such as Levelling Up Fund Round 2.


The report explained that Multiply was a ring-fenced part of UKSPF which is being made available to deliver adult numeracy programmes.  The Council had received a conditional £711,702 funding allocation (additional to the UKSPF core funding of £1m) for the three years commencing 2022/23, subject to Department for Education sign-off on an Investment Plan which had been submitted by the Council by the deadline of 30 June 2022.


The report noted that a second competitive round of bidding for the Levelling Up Fund had been launched, with themes of transport investments, regeneration and town centre investment and cultural investment.  The deadline for bids had been 6 July 2022 and the Council had submitted bids in relation to Minster Quarter regeneration (Minute 13 below refers) and a package of sustainable transport projects.


The report explained that the bid ‘Heart of Reading – Culture and Community at Minster Quarter’ would focus on the cultural regeneration of the Minster Quarter and Bridge Street area, and would invest in the enhancement of the cultural offer at the Hexagon Theatre and a new library, discovery and learning provision in an accessible and central location.  The report noted the wider redevelopment of the Minster Quarter, which was the subject of a separate report (Minute 13 below refers) and summarised match funding opportunities from the Council’s low carbon capital investment programme and library capital programme budget.  A bid had been developed and submitted by the deadline using a delegation made by the Committee at its meeting on 13 June 2021 (minute 5 refers) which had authorised the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Chief Financial Officer and the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council, to submit bids for funding streams relevant to the Minster Quarter, including The Levelling Up Fund.


The report explained that a second bid for a package of sustainable transport investment had also been submitted.  The bid included a package of sustainable travel interventions, focused on improving access to employment, education and leisure opportunities for residents living in areas of higher deprivation to the south and west of the Borough.  The package included enhanced active travel links (walking and cycling facilities), linking residential and employment areas in south Reading and providing onward travel options through better access to South Reading Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) services.  These new active travel links would be complemented with a package of traffic signal upgrades including enhanced pedestrian crossing facilities, and essential bridge strengthening works to ensure vital links connecting areas of higher deprivation with the town centre remained open.  The final element of the package was the next phase of the South Reading MRT scheme, which included provision of an outbound bus lane on the A33 over the River Kennet bridge, providing a continuous bus priority route.  The bid was for £18m capital grant funding, with a £2m local match contribution provided by the Council from the approved capital programme for phases 4 and 5 of the South Reading MRT Scheme.


Resolved –


(1)      That the proposed approach to development of Reading’s Shared Prosperity Fund Investment Plan to be submitted by the deadline of 1 August 2022 be approved;


(2)      That the submission of an Investment Plan for the Multiply programme as required by Government by the deadline of 30 June 2022 be noted;


(3)      That the submission of Levelling Up Fund bids for Reading for Minster Quarter (including the inclusion of approved low carbon capital investment funds and Brownfield Land Release Fund as match funding) and a package of sustainable transport projects, which were invited by the deadline of 6 July 2022, be noted.

Publication date: 28/09/2022

Date of decision: 11/07/2022

Decided at meeting: 11/07/2022 - Policy Committee

Accompanying Documents: