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West of England Combined Authority

Funding programmes

2020/21 is the second academic year of Adult Education Budget funding being managed by the West of England Combined Authority. This on-going revenue funding of circa £15m per annum enables the West of England to prioritise and allocate adult education funding to the areas of greatest local and regional need (in compliance with our Local Industrial Strategy and Skills Plan). Previously, funding was distributed nationally on an historical basis and, in the short time that we have managed the funding, the provider base has been rationalised from over a hundred to just 30 ensuring that the public sector is working in partnership with local providers in areas that have the greatest impact for our residents.

This fund has been introduced by the UK Government to support people and communities most in need across the UK.  It will provide £220 million of additional funding to support people and communities most in need. It also intends to help the UK move smoothly away from the EU structural fund programme and is a pilot programme to prepare for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Further information can be found here. 

The West of England Combined Authority have collated bids into this Government, applications from Local Authorities, Universities, Colleges, Third Sector organisations and others.  

The projects that were submitted to Government are available to view

Initially awarded in late 2018, with a further allocation announced in 2019, £103m capital grant has been allocated for the development and construction of major transport schemes to help influence modal shift and encourage more use of public transport. The funds have to be spent by March 2023 and form part of the West of England Combined Authority Investment Programme of £350m up to that period. 

Overall, our four-year programme will invest: 

  • £115m in transport improvements and infrastructure; 
  • £119m in housing development and infrastructure; 
  • £99m in business and skills 
  • £17m to be allocated for new opportunities, challenges and other costs

Our investment fund

The Combined Authority’s Investment Fund supports our Local Industrial Strategy and Regional Recovery Plan. The fund will bring £30 million per annum to the West of England region over a 30-year period. This funding is subject to Gateway Reviews by Government every five years.  To secure the funding, we have to demonstrate that our work adds value to existing programmes and activities.

The first Gateway Review is due in early 2021. This review will unlock the next five years (£150 million) of investment funding. The research provider SQW has been contracted to carry out the Gateway Reviews. It has recently submitted a positive report on our progress. To support this, we have created a Locality Complementary Report. This provides the wider context for SQW’s independent evaluation of our Investment Fund.

The Local Growth Assurance Framework sets out how the Investment Fund operates alongside the principles and criteria set out in the Investment Strategy. Funding awards are available to view on the project list via our Investment Fund Programme Tracker and the programme is subject to a regular update to the Combined Authority Committee.

Through the Investment Fund we have created or extended a number of programmes managed by the Combined Authority which include provision of grant funding support to businesses or other organisations. These include:

At the West of England Combined Authority Committee, it was agreed to allocate £9.395m to support West of England businesses during the early phase of economic recovery as advised by the Covid19 Economic Recovery Taskforce. Eight programme elements which would fall within this funding were identified. The following have been approved through this delegation since January 2021: 

  • Small Business Resilience Grant Programme 
  • High Street Renewal Catalyst Fund 
  • Digital Skills Investment Fund 
  • Culture and Creative Economy Recovery Fund  
  • Low Carbon Challenge Fund Extension 
  • Talent Retention Platform 
  • Post-16 Education Skills Estate Analysis  
  • Green Recovery Fund  

The Low Carbon Challenge Fund (LCCF) will support the shift towards a low carbon economy and support businesses in their recovery from the impact of COVID. It is a £3.5m grant scheme, with £2.1m European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grant and £1.4m grant from the Investment Fund. LCCF is managed by the West of England Combined Authority, reporting to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) on ERDF.   There are three LCCF grant streams:

  • Green Business Grants
  • Innovative Local Energy Scheme
  • Innovative Housing Retrofit Scheme

This £3.294m funding programme provides support to SMEs to assist them as they undertake research and development activities, including those contributing towards clean and inclusive growth. The programme is match funded through the Investment Fund and supported by £1.45m of funding from the European Regional Development Fund, which is part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme 2014-2020. Established by the European Union, ESIF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, job creation and community regeneration.


£2m investment fund: project will deliver a £800k business support programme (including continuation of the Creative Scale Up programme) and a £500k grant fund to SMEs across the West of England Combined Authority working in the creative industries. The business support programme will support 120 creative business to reformulate their operating and financial models, explore new business opportunities and review business plans in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The grant programme will support 25 SMEs and 150 freelancers in the sector.

This £2m funding will enable the design and commissioning of a programme of digital skills support packages targeted at priority groups including: 

  • Basic digital skills and access – to build capacity to increase access and take-up and support the most vulnerable groups (aligning with devolved Adult Education Budget). 
  • ‘Medium to higher level digital skills’ – to build on skills interventions in existing projects and assets to create a multi-partner approach to delivering short courses, teaching core digital and professional skills to unemployed people. 

This £1m project will deliver a grant fund to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across West of England Combined Authority area to support some 300 businesses that require funding to implement new business practices as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, by purchasing new products, services or equipment.  

This £3.6m project funded through the investment fund, provides support to low income in-work residents in West of England Combined Authority to increase their confidence, motivation, wellbeing, skills and incomes. Through a one to one coaching service, the approach goes beyond training to identify and overcome a much wider range of barriers to career progress, tailoring support to the individual. The project will additionally provide information, advice and signposting to set all residents on the road to career progression. Read more.

Workforce for the Future will improve skills to benefit residents and businesses across the region. It is a £8.1m fund including £4m from the European Social Fund and £4.1m from the Investment Fund, for activities to link small and medium-sized businesses with the right talent, creating new employment opportunities for residents. 

The Community Support Fund (CSF) will support the most vulnerable within our communities, including those who’ve suffered disproportionately due to COVID-19. The project aims to provide the vital first step towards learning, training and work.

This new £1.5m programme is a key part of the West of England Combined Authority’s Recovery Plan. It will support those who face the greatest risk of negative social, health or economic consequences as a result of the pandemic.

This £480,000 funding programme provides support to SMEs to enhance their understanding of Intellectual Property (IP) and incorporate this within their business strategy. IP is an important factor in encouraging businesses to develop and protect new products, processes and/or services they create, and in the longer term attract investment, create jobs and achieve business growth. Through this fund businesses are able to commission an IP audit and take the necessary steps protect their IP. The programme is supported via the Investment Fund and match funding is provided by the business beneficiaries.

The Community Pollinator Fund aims to promote and fund community-led ecology projects that enhance biodiversity and pollinator habitats across the region. The £1m fund offers grants between £1,000 and £100,000 and is expected to support in the region of 100 small scale habitat creation initiatives which empower and engage communities. Overall, the fund is expected to deliver 312,498m2 of new and improved pollinator habitats and engage 3,639 community members in habitat creation projects.

Combined Authority funding and projects

Grant programme finance information

Key documents