NEWPORT is set to bid for UK Government Levelling Up funding, as part of plans to create a National Technology Institute in the city.

Later today - Wednesday, June 15 - Newport City Council's Labour-run cabinet is set to decide whether or not it will submit an application for funding, which could see the city granted a slice of a £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund (LUF), launched in 2021 to “overcome regional inequality”.

While Newport has been listed as a 'priority category one area' – in highest need of investment - its first attempt at bidding for funding was rejected.

Initially, the council sought £20 million of funding from the first funding round for the Northern Gateway Quarter of the city, which would have seen money made available to improve the area surrounding Newport Railway Station, including adjacent streets and public spaces.

But, this application proved unsuccessful.

Now, with the second round of submissions open for bidding, the council cabinet is to decide if it wishes to submit a new bid.

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However, any funds granted by the UK Government, up to a maximum of £20 million, would need a minimum of 10 per cent of the total match funded – by either the local authority or third parties.

Ahead of the cabinet deciding whether or not to make a new bid, the local authority will need to ring-fence £1 million in order to match the funding.

What do Newport want the money for?

In 2019, plans to create a National Technology Institute in Newport were announced.

According to these plans, the site would provide around 3,000 students with skills and resources needed to align with the needs of high-tech businesses and employers in and around the Newport area.

Said to be an alternative to traditional university and existing post-16 education routes, the institute would work closely with local firms, shaping the curriculum to include skills needed in the industry, and providing employment pathways to graduates.

When news of the project was first announced, Professor Simon Gibson, chairman of the Newport Economic Network, said: “The National Technology Institute will be the bridge between students and employers and reintroduces the concept of student sponsorship by partner companies and the establishment of a national endowment to widen the net of opportunity.”

The National Technology Institute is set to be operated as a separate legal entity to Newport City Council, with a board of directors.

How will it be funded?

While it is unclear how much Newport will potentially bid for, it has been confirmed that the city council will need to match-fund £1 million.

As a result, the cabinet is set to discuss releasing funding which was previously earmarked for another project – ahead of the deadline to submit a bid closing in early July.

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It is proposed that funds which were set to be used as part of a renewable energy project be used, to due delays in starting that project.

According to council documents, these delays come as a result of “capacity issues with the grid.”

Continuing, the report says: “It is therefore recommended that this project is deleted from the current capital programme and the borrowing headroom released and allocated to this project. This renewable energy project will be reconsidered in the future when Grid capacity allows.”

A decision as to whether Newport will submit a Levelling Up Funding bid is set to be made at Newport City Council’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday, June 15.

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