Levelling Up – Towns Fund / Future High Streets / Shared Prosperity Fund

Levelling Up – Towns Fund / Future High Streets / Shared Prosperity Fund

AspinallVerdi has a long track record of developing business cases for public sector funding. This goes right back to English Partnership’s Property Improvement Programme (PIP) funding; though European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Objective 1 and 2 and JESSICA; to the Regional Development Agencies ‘Single Pot’; and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) Growth Funds.

Recently we have consulted on various Future High Street Funds bids; Town Investment Plans for Town Funds and Levelling-Up. We also work on Heritage Grants and Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF).

Levelling Up Fund

The Levelling Up Fund (LUF) is investing in capital infrastructure that improves everyday life and has a tangible impact on local places. For round one in 2021, the fund invested in projects across three themes: (i) regenerating town centres and high streets, (ii) upgrading local transport and (iii) investing in cultural and heritage assets.

AspinallVerdi has worked on masterplans, investment prospectus and business cases for various LUF bids including: Catterick Garrison, Ashington, Worcester and Blackburn

Towns Fund

The £3.6bn Towns Fund was launched at the end of 2019 to unleash the full economic potential of over 100 places and level up communities throughout the country with places being able to receive a significant investment of up to £25 million. The aim is to increase economic growth with a focus on regeneration, improved transport, better broadband connectivity, skills and culture.

The private sector has an integral role to play in making these Town Deals a success – driving investment and value for money and ensuring that funding delivers the jobs, businesses and homes our towns need to thrive for generations to come.

The Prospectus recognises that struggling towns do not always have the fundamental building blocks of a strong local economy in place. It highlights that towns can face some significant challenges such as: an ageing population without the skills necessary to attract new firms; fewer people going on to and returning from higher education; fewer economic opportunities in the surrounding region; and less direct foreign investment than in cities.

Growth is also held back where this is compounded by poor transport and digital connectivity and the Towns Fund aims to address these growth constraints.  

AspinallVerdi has worked on masterplans, investment prospectus and business cases for various Towns Fund bids including: Wakefield, Blyth, Worcester and St Helens.

 Going forward the Towns Fund will be delivered through two elements:

  • Town Deals, which aim to regenerate towns and deliver long-term economic and productivity growth through investments in urban regeneration, planning and land use, skills, heritage and enterprise infrastructure; and
  • The Future High Streets Fund, which aims to renew and reshape town centres and high streets in England in a way that drives growth and ensures future sustainability. 

Future High Streets Fund

The Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) is a £675 million capital and revenue grant fund allocated to local authorities on a competitive basis. Its core aim is to provide infrastructure investment to help renew and reshape town centres and high streets in a way that improves the experience, drives growth, and ensures future sustainability. It was launched in December 2018 and is a key part of the Government’s plan to renew and reshape town centres and high streets in a way that drives economic growth and sustainably improves living standards.

The FHSF Prospectus (December 2018) describes the current structural changes facing high streets. Change on high streets is not a new phenomenon. The Prospectus describes how over many years the ways in which people interact with their high streets and town centres have constantly evolved, e.g. out-of-town shopping centres in the 1980s. However, the speed of change has increased dramatically in recent decades. The unprecedented growth of online shopping in particular has had a big effect on high streets. Between 2007 and 2018 online sales increased six-fold while the growth of in-store sales lagged behind. In 2000 online retailing accounted for less than 1% of total retail sales while in October 2018 almost a fifth of all retail sales took place online.

FHSF bids that we have supported include Heanor in Derbyshire, Blyth in Northumberland, Wakefield, Birkenhead and St Neots in Huntingdonshire. 

UK Shared Prosperity Fund

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) aims to increase life chances and build pride in place across the UK, by empowering places to invest in local priorities across three priority areas: communities and place, people and skills, and local business. 

This will lead to significant, visible and tangible improvements to the places where people work and live, supporting town centres, high streets, cultural assets and green spaces that have deteriorated over time. This new fund will give communities up and down the UK more reasons to be proud of where they live.

The UKSPF will support the UK Government’s wider commitment to level up all parts of the UK and align with the levelling up ‘missions’.

Mayoral Funding Settlements and Growth Deal

The Levelling Up White Paper sets an agenda to usher in a ‘devolution revolution’, introducing a new model for counties with mayors or “governors”. Government is encouraging deeper devolution deals with the West Midlands and Greater Manchester combined authorities. These deals will act as the blueprint for other mayoral combined authorities (MCAs) to follow, with bids for more powers welcome.

Government is also looking to recast the geography of MCAs, where necessary, to ensure there is greater economic coherence. Nine new County Deals areas are to be invited to extend devolution to much more of England.

AspinallVerdi supports the combined authorities on professional frameworks working on growth funds, brownfield land fund etc.

For further information about our services browse our case studies