Millions of pounds worth of funding aimed at improving the lives of residents in communities all over Westmorland and Furness has been agreed.
Twenty two projects will share £8.1 million from the government's UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF), allocated by Westmorland and Furness Council.
Ten funding calls for schemes aimed at improving community and place, supporting local business, and people and skills were launched in May and the council's Investment Board agreed on the successful projects last month.
Just over £6 million was available for Westmorland and Furness as a whole from the UKSPF for the next two years, with £2.1 million from the REPF targeted at the former South Lakeland and Eden Localities.
Focussing on its Communities and Place priorities, the council will support a number of diverse projects ranging from activities to boost third sector growth and sustainability, targeted interventions to address the cost of living crisis, increasing the accessibility of sports facilities and improving town centres. The tourism, arts, culture and heritage pedigree of Westmorland and Furness is further supported through improvements to fell paths, programmes to fund events and festivals and arts and heritage organisation as well as investments to grow the visitor offer.
Under the Supporting Local Business priority, a range of projects that aim to boost business growth, profitability and decarbonisation are set to receive vital support. These will be further boosted by specialist support to grow and innovate within the social enterprise sector as well as capital grants for small and micro rural businesses. Support will be tailored to individual business needs and deliver a significant boost to the local economy.
People and Skills investments will focus on the council priority areas of young people, addressing worklessness and supporting those furthest from the labour market to return to employment. A targeted programme will also seek to link those seeking work with vacancies in the visitor economy, meeting this critical economic need.
Councillor Virginia Taylor, Westmorland and Furness Council’s Cabinet member for Sustainable Communities and Localities, said: "The quality of applications we received for these funds was very high and the projects funded will be led by organisations with local knowledge and expertise and ideally placed to help make Westmorland and Furness a great place to live, work and thrive.
"Westmorland and Furness Council is committed to supporting active, healthy happy lives for young and old; supporting people in need and reducing inequality; providing leadership in the drive to become carbon net zero; enabling confident, empowered, resilient communities; and stimulating sustainable, inclusive, economic growth.
"These ambitious projects support all these priorities and will go a long way to improving prosperity and wellbeing in communities, now and in the future."
All projects will commence once contracts are finalised. The successful projects and grant allocations, subject to final contract agreement, are:
UK Shared Prosperity Fund
Inclusive Sports Facilities
Active Cumbria – Sport – Improving Assets and Increasing Participation: Up to £266,815 towards providing capital support to clubs and other sports organisations to improve the infrastructure of sports facilities and revenue support to organisations to increase the number of sporting tournaments, events, festivals and activities taking place.
Business Support, Start-Up and Growth
Cumbria LEP – Comprehensive Business Start-up and Support Programme: Up to £1,630,000 for a fully integrated business support service across Westmorland and Furness managed under a co-ordinated ‘umbrella’ service, proving a business-friendly service that is easy to navigate.
Cumbria Action for Sustainability – Westmorland and Furness Net Zero Business Hub: Up to £571,359 to deliver an innovative, collaborative and joined-up approach to delivering a holistic programme of support to 300 small and medium sized businesses in Westmorland and Furness area to decarbonise.
Support to Access Employment
Inspira – The Key: Up to £615,066 towards the continuation of an established employability programme for economically inactive adults, The Key, expanding the target group to include young people aged 16-25 who are not engaged in education, employment, or training.
Cumbria Tourism – Welcome to Work in the Visitor Economy: Up to £132,701 to address labour shortages in the visitor economy by linking people looking for work with tourism businesses, focussing on training for businesses on the Disability Confident scheme and then working with partners like DWP and People First to help people with disabilities to access the labour market; matchmaking people with vacancies through the Tourism Talent Hub, and helping those who don’t know what they want to do to access employment while they decide rather than falling out of the system.
Employability Support for Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Barrow: Up to £92,657 for a Westmorland and Furness Council project to improve community cohesion and integration of asylum seekers and refugees in Barrow by providing English language skills provision to help them progress to employment/volunteering, further learning, integrate into communities, and understand cultural differences.
Improvements to Local Public Realm
Kendal Market Hall Regeneration – Up to £750,000 for a Westmorland and Furness Council scheme to regenerate the historic Grade II listed Market Hall to provide a rejuvenated community and commercial space for Kendal fit for the 21st century.
Barrow Public Realm Enhancement: Up to £65,000 towards a Westmorland and Furness Council scheme to enhance the public realm in Barrow Town Centre focussed on Dalton Road, between Buccleuch Street and Paxton Street, providing street furniture and attractive planters will enhance the experience for shoppers and other visitors.
Stramongate Improvement Scheme, Kendal: Up to £150,000 towards the public realm improvement scheme that has been designed to increase visitor footfall to Stramongate and towards the Town Centre, increasing the accessibility of the area for pedestrians and cyclists.
Kirkby Stephen Town Centre Improvement Scheme: Up to £285,000 to develop a Westmorland and Furness Council scheme that will look to enhance the visitor, heritage and cultural offer of Kirkby Stephen.
Arts, Heritage and Culture
Support for Local Cultural and Heritage Organisations: £200,000 to promote, administer and deliver grant funding to existing smaller cultural, heritage and creative organisations in Westmorland and Furness that are not in a position to bid for larger grants.
Cumbria Tourism – Culture in Westmorland and Furness: Up to £175,908 to deliver a high profile coordinated multi-media promotional campaign that will help to promote the arts, heritage, culture, and creative activities sector recognising they are a key driver to encourage national and international visitors' discovery (or revisiting) of the area, boosting economic activity.
Support for Active Travel
National Trust – Fix the Fells: Up to £108,232 towards restoring three of the most easily accessible but eroded paths that provide access to Wainwrights - Glenridding Dodd, Loughrigg and Gowbarrow.
Impactful Volunteering and Social Action Projects
Groundwork – Green Doctor: Up to £198,107 for a project to tackle fuel poverty and offer support with the cost-of-living crisis, including trained energy advisors specialising in helping the most vulnerable save energy, money and maximise their incomes and staff energy advice engagement in community settings, as well as providing Money Mentor Advice.
Cumbria CVS – This is Us: Up to £259,151 for a collaborative, cross sector project, between Cumbria CVS, the voluntary sector, statutory sectors and businesses to deliver a package of increased social action and impactful volunteering, delivered by recruiting Development and Volunteering Officers.
Brathay Trust – Elevate: Up to £77,730 to continue a programme designed to support young people who are becoming disaffected or disengaged from education; failing to attend school and at risk of – or subject to – exclusion.
Events & Festivals grant programme: £100,000 for a Westmorland and Furness Council project to deliver grants to improve events and festivals.
Rural England Prosperity Fund
Support for Existing Rural, Cultural, Historic and Heritage Institutions
Canal and Rivers Trust – Lancaster Canal Towpath Trail: Up to £751,306 towards delivering towpath improvement works of up to 8.12km from Stainton to Holme.
Wordsworth Trust – Wordsworth Grasmere: Up to £94,620 to enhance signage and interpretation at Wordsworth Grasmere to increase footfall at the internationally famous cultural destination and help it to realise its economic potential.
Lake District Estates – Lady of the Lake: Up to £310,000 towards Ullswater Steamers’ innovative project to reduce carbon emissions by converting flagship vessel Lady of the Lake to parallel hybrid electric powered. This project will be an important demonstrator of the possibilities towards lake transport decarbonisation in the Lake District and nationally, acting as a catalyst for further innovation and attracting more visitors with a project that will essentially deliver towards a carbon net zero visitor experience serving connections between Stagecoach/Hopper bus services, Ullswater Way walking routes in turn linked to West Coast mainline rail station in Penrith.
Support for Rural Businesses
Cumbria Chamber of Commerce – Rural Business Grants and Support: Up to £1,016,378 towards providing support to rural micro and small businesses through advice and grants.
Support to Grow the Rural Social Economy
Cumbria Social Enterprise Partnership – A Social Enterprise Zone for Westmorland and Furness: Up to £528,447 for a Social Enterprise Zone for Westmorland and Furness to create the best conditions for new social enterprises aimed at benefiting residents and communities to form and for the existing sector to innovate and grow.