After Boris Johnson began his first week in office pledging over £3bn of investment in infrastructure and regeneration projects, today 100 Chief Executives of Charities, companies, housing providers and funders join together to call for new PM to commit to building stronger opportunities for people and communities across the UK.

All have signed a joint letter from the Employment Related Services Association and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations which urges Boris Johnson to ensure that outside the EU, organisations can help more people than ever before to build their skills, contribute to society and find purpose through good work.

The European Union currently provides billions in funding to help charities, businesses, local authorities and other funders work together to deliver services to support people through such services.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund was announced by the Conservatives in 2017 with the aim of reducing inequalities. The fund presents a rare and valuable opportunity to create a world-leading system which supports young people, those with disabilities or mental health issues and many other groups who need support to gain steady employment.

Hundreds of charities, businesses, local authorities and other funders work together to deliver services to help people today, much of it co-funded by €4.9bn from the EU European Social Fund between 2014 and 2020. This amount is set to increase from 2020 – 2027 by over 20%. 

Together, signatories call on the Prime Minister to confirm that under his leadership: 

  • The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will help the UK achieve its post-Brexit potential by providing support for disadvantaged groups and communities that often fall through the gaps of existing state provision.   
  • Funding for employment and skills support allocated from the Shared Prosperity Fund will not fall below levels that would have been received through funding had the UK remained in the EU. 
  • There will be no funding gap between the closure of the European Social Fund and the distribution of Shared Prosperity Funding to ensure there is no permanent loss of expertise, infrastructure or partnerships for frontline organisations, and consequently, vital support for disadvantaged jobseekers and learners.

Elizabeth Taylor, Interim chief executive of the Employment Related Services Association, said:

The Prime Minister’s pledge to support greater powers to council leaders and communities to improve local services is welcome provided everyone in those areas can benefit, including more disadvantaged groups. He can set his vision for a UK where all can thrive and contribute to society by showing his commitment to ensuring disadvantaged people and communities can access crucial education, training and employment support.

Organisations funded today by European Social Funds need surety their vital services will continue to be funded after we leave the European Union. The promised UK Shared Prosperity Fund could establish itself as a world leading initiative but needs action now to be designed and ready to deliver in time so every part of society can share in our post-Brexit future.”

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said:

The European Social Fund supports vulnerable groups and marginalised communities up and down the country, through a broad range of programmes and initiatives.

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With the UK poised to leave the European Union, we welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement to bring forward plans on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The government should seize this once in a generation opportunity to develop a world-leading initiative that builds on the best aspects of ESF while addressing some of the design flaws which have led to excessive and unnecessary bureaucracy.”

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The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Prime Minister

10 Downing Street

London

SW1A 2AA 

31 July 2019

Dear Prime Minister,

As you consider your priorities over the coming weeks and months and at a crucial time for the United Kingdom, we write to highlight how important it will be to build stronger opportunities for people and communities as we leave the European Union.

Leaving the EU provides us with an opportunity to deliver a world-leading initiative to replace previous investment from the European Social Fund (ESF). Seizing this chance will help more people than ever before to build their skills, contribute to society and find purpose through good work. 

Getting this right will also build productivity and nurture a more inclusive economy, strengthening communities in the process and building a better Britain.

Across the UK, hundreds of charities, businesses, local authorities and other funders work together to deliver services targeted at supporting people into work in areas where it is harder to find that good job and for those who have been excluded and not supported by mainstream provision. EU funding between 2014 and 2020 will be €4.9 billion and this amount nearly doubles when match funding is accounted for. To deliver a better impact post 2020 will need an effective level of funding.  This should not be less than the matched funding the UK would have been entitled to from the EU from 2020 – 2027.

The Conservative manifesto of 2017 announced the creation of a UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to reduce inequalities. We can build a funding system which works better for the UK, is more flexible and has less bureaucracy. A consultation was promised last year and now much delayed.

Despite a written ministerial statement last year which confirmed the principles of the UKSPF, organisations have had little concrete information allowing them to plan ahead. There is no certainty on how much the fund will have to distribute, when it will be up and running, or the outcomes it will be set up to achieve. Greater clarity and pace will be needed if there is to be a seamless transition from one funding regime to another to avoid the risk of services stopping for individuals who need them most.

These programmes support young people who are not in education, employment or training; single parents who want to get back to work; people with disabilities, learning difficulties or mental health issues as well as ex-offenders who need support to gain steady employment and many others.

For example, Disability Action’s Job Match programme supports people with disabilities gain access to employment opportunities which meet their career aspirations. They transform their clients’ prospects by working directly with employers as well as helping people develop the right education and training. Similarly, Shaw Trust has supported those with common mental health issues into work, working alongside NHS mental health trusts in areas of London.

Investment in employment and skills support will help heal division, build economic resilience and improve health and wellbeing outcomes. Importantly, it will help prepare for potential economic challenges following withdrawal, address skills shortages and reduce pressures on Jobcentre Plus.

Given the importance of this work, we urge you to confirm that under your leadership:

  • The UKSPF will help the UK achieve its post-Brexit potential by providing support for disadvantaged groups and communities that often fall through the gaps of existing state provision.   
  • Funding for employment and skills support allocated from the UKSPF will not fall below levels that would have been received through ESF funding had the UK remained in the EU. 
  • There will be no funding gap between the closure of EU ESF funding and the distribution of UKSPF funding to ensure there is no permanent loss of expertise, infrastructure or partnerships for frontline organisations, and consequently, vital support for disadvantaged jobseekers and learners.

We extend a collective invitation to see the good work taking place and the impact it is having on people, work and health by visiting any of the current projects delivering positive outcomes across the UK.

Your sincerely,

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Elizabeth Taylor, Interim Chief Executive, ERSA Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive, NCVO

Full list of signatories below

  ERSA
Elizabeth Taylor, Interim Chief Executive

Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales
Paul Streets OBE, Chief Executive 

National Housing Federation
Kate Henderson, Chief Executive

Clarion Housing Group
Phil Miles, Group Chief Executive

Mayor's Fund for London
Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive

Groundwork UK
Graham Duxbury, CEO 

Get Set UK
Thomas Hardy, CEO

Give us a Chance
Lynsey Sweeney, Managing Director

Golding Homes
Gary Clark, CEO 

Groundwork NE &Cumbria Groundwork South Yorkshire
Kate Culverhouse, CEO

G4S
Alex Hayes, Managing Dorector ESS

Institute of Employability Professionals
Scott Parkin, Chief Executive

NCVO
Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive

Learning and Work Institute
Stephen Evans, Chief Executive

Genuis Within CIC
Dr Nancy Doyle, Chief Executive

Business in the Community
Amanda Mackenzie OBE, Chief Executive

Ixion Holdings Ltd
Jacqueline Oughton, Managing Director 

JobSkilla
Chris Hughes, CEO

ForHousing
Henry Terefenko, CEO

London Plus
Rayhan Haque, Convener, London Good Work Commission

City Gateway
David Wesson, CEO 

Monmouthshire Housing Association
John Keegan, CEO

National Enterprise Network
Alex Till, Chairman

Leonard Cheshire Disability
Neil Heslop, CEO 

Business2Business
Veejay Patel, Chief Executive

Careers England
Steve Stewart OBE, Executive Director

WCVA
Ruth Marks, Chief Executive 

UK Youth
Anna Smee, CEO

Royal Mencap Society
Janine Tregelles, Chief Executive

SCDA
Penny Shimmin, Chief Executive

Acis Group Ltd
Greg Bacon, Chief Executive 

Adviza
Katharine Horler, Chief Executive

Belina Get Ready for Work
Liz Sewell, Director

Impetus
Sam Windett, Director of Policy 

Beyond Housing
Rosemary Du Rose, Chief Executive

Blackpool Council
Alan Cavill, Director of Communications and Regeneration,  

Bootstrap Enterprises
Graham Jones, Director 

Clinks
Anne Fox, Chief Executive Officer

Fedcap Employment
Brian Bell, CEO

Career Connect
Kieran Gordon, CEO 

Centrepoint
Seyi Obakin, CEO

Charity Finance Group
Caron Bradshaw, Chief Executive

Northern RIghts
Katherine Murray, Managing Director

All Trades Training Ltd
Courtney Grinham, Managing Director

Clarion Interpreting Limited
Sally Chalk, CEO 

CXK
Pauline Smith, CEO

Equally Ours
Ali Harris, Chief Executive

Business Disability Forum
Diane Lightfoot, CEO

Twining Enterprise
Oliver Jacobs, CEO 

The Forward Trust
Mike Trace, CEO

The Growth Company
Mark Hughes, CEO

The Lennox Partnership
Blyth Deans, Chief Executive

The London Community Foundation
Kate Markey, CEO 

The Prince's Trust
Ben Marson, Director of Partnerships

The Salvation Army
Rebecca Keating, Director of Employment

The Wise Group
Sean Duffy, Chief Executive

ThinkForward
Ashley McCaul, CEO 

Triage Central Limited
Kate Carnegie MBE, Group Managing Director

Network for Europe
Andy Churchill, CEO

Twin Group
Caroline Fox, CEO

Steps to Work
Bhanu Dhir, CEO 

TWP Solutions
Alex Pollock, Founding Director

United Response
Tim Cooper, CEO

Venture Trust
Amelia Morgan, Chief Executive Officer

Vestia Community Trust
Marina Banner, Executive Director 

WEA
Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive & General Secretary

Willowdene Training
Dr Matthew Home, CEO Willowdene Rehabilitation

Worcestershire YMCA
Duncan Berry, Chief Executive Officer

Xyrius Training Limited
Margaret Brewer, Chief Operations Officer 

Zest is a trading name of the Netherthorpe & Upperthorpe Community Alliance
Matthew Dean, Chief Executive Officer

TwentyTwenty
Mark Vyner, CEO

Routes to Work
Robin Turner, Chief Executive

Local Trust
Matt Leach, Chief Executive 

on behalf of HOLEX
Dipa Ganguli, Principal/Head of Service, Sutton College Adult Education

Orbit
Mark Hoyland, Group Chief Executive

Paddington Development Trust
Neil Johnston, CEO

Papworth Trust
Sarah Miller, Chief Executive 

Pathways LDN Ltd
Paul Tumwine

Peabody
Brendan Sarsfield, CEO

Pluss
Steve Hawkins, Chief Executive

RBLI
Steve Sherry, CEO 

The Consultancy Home Counties (TCHC)
Dale Morgan, Chairman

Roach Associates
Pat Roach, Director

The Careers Academy
Raymond Quintal, Director

Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD)
Sue Mountford, Joint CEO 

RunwayTraining
Olive Trailor, Managing Director

Scope
Mark Hodgkinson, Chief Executive

Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Claire Ainsley, Executive Director

Seetec Group
John Baumback, Group Managing Director

SETAS
Richard Brooks, Director 

Shaw Trust
Chris Luck CB MBE, Chief Executive

Simpact CIC
Mark Shields, CEO

St Giles Trust
Rob Owen, CEO

Step One Charity
Ellis Rainsford, Chief Executive

Scottish Union of Supported Employment
David Cameron, Chief Executive Officer

New Challenge
Ramesh Moher, Operations Manager

Reed in Partnership
Rhodri Thomas, Managing Director

ELBA       
Ian Parkes, CEO

Barnardo’s 
Steve Woolcock, Head of Employment Training and Skills

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