Press release

Make the Shared Prosperity Fund an engine for re-balancing the economy, says MillionPlus

24 Feb 2020

As we enter the transition phase of leaving the European Union, MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, calls on the government to use this time to work with universities and finalise the details of the proposed Shared Prosperity Fund – including the commencement date.

In a new policy briefing published today (24 February) MillionPlus outlines support for the government’s pledge to replace EU Structural and Investment funds with a Shared Prosperity Fund. The fund will be used to spread wealth across the country and narrow regional inequalities, however more clarity on the detail is needed.

Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Chair of MillionPlus and Vice-Chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, said:

“The government is right to view re-balancing wealth and investment across the whole country as vital in the coming years and the Shared Prosperity Fund, with the support of modern universities, can be an engine for doing so. Modern universities have used the £100m of European investment they have received since 2014 to level up innovation and prosperity in the nations and regions of the UK.”

“The success of EU funds in infrastructure development and investment in communities over recent decades means there is strong record to build on, but a balancing act will need to be found so that what worked under the old funding system is not lost under its replacement. The recommendations outlined in this paper would be a solid set of fundamental principles that a successful, streamlined Shared Prosperity Fund could be built on.”

“Clarity is much needed and is sought by those communities that have benefited from previous investment, anxious to ensure that there is no limbo period between the end of European funded projects and the commencement of those under the Shared Prosperity Fund.

“As European projects will begin to shut next year, the Shared Prosperity Fund must commence its investments no later than spring 2021.”

Building on the successes of European Structural and Investment Funds, the Shared Prosperity Fund needs to adhere to three key principles:

  1. Devolve decisions as far away from the centre as possible so that the UK’s regions and nations can target development where it is most needed.
  2. Promote long-term, flexible, local approaches to investment to avoid the pitfalls of electioneering on economic development and ensure there is no centralised one-size-fits-all approach.
  3. Reduce bureaucracy and burden to enable swift action and innovation in regional economic development.

ENDS

Notes to editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Dan Blows on 020 3927 2916 or email press@millionplus.ac.uk
  2. SPF2020: How the Shared Prosperity Fund can protect the UK economy is attached to this email and will be available online here
  3. MillionPlus is the Association for Modern Universities in the UK, and the voice of 21st century higher education. We champion, promote and raise awareness of the essential role and impact of modern universities in the UK’s world-leading higher education sector. More information can be found at www.millionplus.ac.uk
  4. What are modern universities? Modern universities are long established centres of higher education in their communities with roots that stretch back decades, if not centuries. Many gained university title following legislation agreed by parliament in 1992. They make up almost half of the UK university sector with over a million students studying at modern universities every year.
  5. Modern universities: facts and stats