November 23rd, 2022.

A charity that scaled up its operations to support the community through the pandemic crisis is now asking MPs to push the government to pay out the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to enable hundreds of local authorities and not-for-profit organisations to start vital planned projects to help residents through the winter.

The Fund was announced in 2017 as a part-replacement of European Union funding that started to end in May this year, leaving a gap in the resources that many organisations were using to support communities most at risk.

"Our resources were stretched ten times further than we ever expected during the lockdown period," explained Paula Woolven, (pictured), Founder of Havens Community Hub in Newhaven. "And it wasn't a case of we can't, but a case of we will, somehow, with the support of volunteers and local donors.

"Coming out of the pandemic, we are now hit with a perfect storm of recovery, plus the cost of living crisis. We were encouraged by the announcement of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and delighted to be selected by Lewes District Council as a funded project to create further vital help in a vastly undersupported area of Peacehaven and the surrounding towns and villages. Sadly, despite the local authorities doing the heavy-lifting of making sure the projects are viable and doing their due-diligence, the Department of Leveling Up, Housing and Communities has failed to meet its timescale of rubber stamping the projects by the start of October, and starting to issue the funding from the end of October.

"Local authorities have reported a deafening silence to requests for information about when the funding might be released by central government, and the longer the funding is delayed, the more costs are being added to the projects due to the unprecedented rise in interest rates and inflation, leaving some asset-based projects in danger of not being financially viable.

"Thankfully, the costs of our project are not rising as quickly as asset-based projects would be, as the community has pledged its support. However, it is frustrating knowing we could be helping more people at a time when help is most needed."
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