- 55 towns given £20 million endowment-style funds each over 10 years to invest in local people’s priorities
- Long-Term Plan for Towns will empower communities across the UK to take back control of their future – taking long term decisions in the interests of local people
- Funding to be spent on local priorities; reviving high streets, tackling anti-social behaviour, improving transport and growing the local economy
The government has unveiled 55 towns that will benefit from a £1.1 billion levelling up investment, as part of a long-term plan for towns that provide long-term investment in towns that have been overlooked and taken for granted.
Towns that will be given the opportunity to develop a long-term plan supported by a Towns Board include 6 in the North East, 10 in the North West, and 4 in the West Midlands. In total, 55 towns will benefit from the UK-wide approach, including 7 towns in Scotland and 4 in Wales.
The government will work with local councils and the devolved administrations to determine how towns in Scotland and Wales will benefit from funding and powers under the long-term plans. In Northern Ireland, we look forward to working with a restored Executive to determine the approach to providing support there.
Under the new approach, local people, not Whitehall-based politicians, will be put in charge, and given the tools to change their town’s long-term future. They will:
- Receive a 10-year £20 million endowment-style fund to be spent on local people’s priorities, like regenerating local high streets and town centres or securing public safety.
- Set up a Town Board to bring together community leaders, employers, local authorities, and the local MP, to deliver the Long-Term Plan for their town and put it to local people for consultation.
- Use a suite of regeneration powers to unlock more private sector investment by auctioning empty high street shops, reforming licensing rules on shops and restaurants, and supporting more housing in town centres.
More than half the population live in towns, but half-empty high streets, run-down town centres and anti-social behaviour undermine towns in every part of the UK. Today’s announcement marks a change in approach that will put an end to people feeling like their town is ignored by Westminster and empower communities to take back control of their future, taking long term decisions in the interests of local people.
This plan builds on the government’s central mission to level up the UK by putting more power and money in the hands of people who know their areas best to build a brighter future for their community, creating bespoke initiatives that will spark the regeneration needed.
Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said:
Towns are the place most of us call home and where most of us go to work. But politicians have always taken towns for granted and focused on cities.
The result is the half-empty high streets, run-down shopping centres and anti-social behaviour that undermine many towns’ prosperity and hold back people’s opportunity – and without a new approach, these problems will only get worse.
That changes today. Our Long-Term Plan for Towns puts funding in the hands of local people themselves to invest in line with their priorities, over the long-term. That is how we level up.
Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove said:
We know that in our towns the values of hard work and solidarity, common sense and common purpose, endeavour and quiet patriotism have endured across generations. But for too long, too many of our great British towns have been overlooked and undervalued.
We are putting this right through our Long-Term Plan for Towns backed by over £1 billion of levelling up funding.
This will empower communities in every part of the UK to take back control of their future, taking long term decisions in the interests of local people. It will mean more jobs, more opportunities and a brighter future for our towns and the people who live and work in them.
Our Long-Term Plan for Towns, published today (1 October 2023), is carefully designed to complement the wider levelling up programme, working alongside funding for specific projects across the UK, our targeted support to the places most in need through Levelling Up Partnerships, and initiatives supporting economic growth in wider city regions like investment zones.
The Long-Term Plan for Towns will require town boards to develop their own long-term plan for their town, with funding over 10 years and aligned to the issues that research shows people want the most, including:
- improving transport and connections to make travel easier for residents and increase visitor numbers in centres to boost opportunities for small businesses and create jobs
- tackling crime and anti-social behaviour to keep residents safe and encourage visitors through better security measures and hotspot policing
- enhancing town centres to make high streets more attractive and accessible, including repurposing empty shops for new housing, creating more green spaces, cleaning up streets or running market days
Local people will be at the heart of decisions, through direct membership of a new Towns Board, which will include community groups, MPs, businesses, cultural and sports organisations, public sector agencies and local authorities for each town and through a requirement to engage local people on the long-term plan for each town.
These Town Boards will have direct government support in addition to the funding and powers they receive through Long-Term Plan for Towns, and will be required to engage local people on their long-term plan.
The government has also announced a new ‘Towns Taskforce, sitting in the Department for Levelling Up and reporting directly to the Prime Minister and Levelling Up Secretary. This will help town boards to develop their plans, and advise them on how best to take advantage of government policies, unlock private and philanthropic investment and work with communities.
A new ‘High Streets and Towns Task Force’ will also be established, building on the success of the existing version, providing each selected town with bespoke, hands-on support.
Towns have been allocated funding according to the Levelling Up Needs Index which takes into account metrics covering skills, pay, productivity and health, as well as the Index of Multiple Deprivation to ensure funding goes directly to the towns which will benefit most, without new competitions or unnecessary hurdles. A full methodology note has been published.
This commitment to towns follows other initiatives designed to support towns, including driving economic growth in 101 areas through the Towns Fund, and the £1 billion Future High Streets Fund, which is creating thriving high streets.
Local authorities will be the lead delivery partner for plans. This programme has been developed following our work with local authorities, with funding designed to be spent flexibly over a number of years based on local and evolving needs, and distributed through an allocative rather than competitive process.
Towns receiving funding
- Clifton (Nottingham)
- Great Yarmouth
- Blyth (Northumberland)
- Leigh (Wigan)
- Nelson (Pendle)
- Bilston (Wolverhampton)
- Dudley (Dudley)
- Merthyr Tydfil
- Barry (Vale of Glamorgan)