At the November 2020 Spending Review, the government announced a Levelling Up Fund of £4.8 billion to support town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets.
“Infrastructure improves everyday life. A new bridge or a bus lane makes the journeys of local people easier; town centre improvements help local businesses and cement pride in a place; and upgrades in local heritage sites strengthen the local economy and build civic identity.
These are things that people rely on every day in communities up and down the country – the infrastructure of everyday life. This is why I created the Levelling Up Fund.”
What is levelling up?
It aims to bring together the Department for Transport, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury to invest £4.8 billion in high value local infrastructure to improve everyday life for people in the UK.
“It is also designed to help local areas select genuine local priorities for investment by putting local stakeholder support, including the local MP, where they want to be involved, at the heart of its mission.
After such a challenging year, there has never been a better time to unite and level up the country. It’s absolutely crucial that we bring opportunity to every single part of the UK by making sure our spending, tax, investment and regeneration priorities bring about meaningful change.”
Neil O’Brien, MP for Harborough and the Cabinet’s Levelling Up Adviser
What levelling up funding is available?
The Levelling Up Fund is open to all local areas in the UK but is focused on providing investment in areas which with the most significant indicators of need for economic recovery and growth, improved transport connectivity and regeneration.
In the first round of funding, where bids were due by June 2021, the Fund will prioritise projects able to demonstrate investment or “begin delivery on the ground” within the 2021-22 financial year.
The fund will focus initially on projects that require up to £20m in funding, though the UK Government has confirmed that there is scope to accept bids above £20m and below £50m for specific transport projects.
Individual or combined local authorities are able submit bids to invest in:
- High impact, low carbon transport projects – such as new or existing cycling provision, enhanced public transport facilities, bus lanes or structural maintenance to local road networks like bridge repairs;
- Regeneration of brownfield sites and improving town centres – such as regenerating leisure and retail sites, removing derelict buildings or improving public high streets parks, extending green spaces and reducing crime; or
- Creating, maintaining or repurposing cultural assets – such as acquiring and refurbishing museums, galleries or visitor attractions or upgrading or creating new cultural and creative spaces including sports facilities, art venues, theatres and libraries.
What is different about the levelling up fund to other investment pots?
The aim of the Levelling Up Fund is to remove the silos between departments and make bidding for funding easier. The idea is that high priority local projects can be considered in their entirety, rather than taking a piecemeal approach to projects which traditionally have to fit certain funding pots.
What’s the key for levelling up success?
First round funding decisions are expected in Autumn 2021 and while the bid deadline has passed, there is still an opportunity for local authorities to make an impact during the bid assessment period from now until the Autumn.
In recent projects we’ve worked on with local authorities in bidding for high street regeneration and visitor economy investment, we’ve found time and again that wide stakeholder support is key to getting a truly holistic picture of the potential project.
We’ve actively engaged with the constituency members, local community groups, businesses, retail associations, community land trust organisations, community regeneration partners and local MPs. From this we have been able to gather information, coordinate a programme of events, consult with stakeholders on the production, exchange and review of build design, cost and land purchase information. By taking everyone along on the journey to realise the ultimate vision, we can demonstrate genuine community support for the proposed projects.
Need an extra pair of hands?
Would you like to take advantage of future funding opportunities, including bidding in subsequent rounds of the Levelling Up Fund? Why not contact us for a no obligation chat on 0115 7060338 or email us at [email protected] to see how we could provide relevant expertise and additional resources to your team.