The "Stronger Towns Fund" will be awarded in two ways, £1bn allocated through a needs-based formula and a further £600m through a competitive application process. This needs-based formula means that towns across the North (£583m) and Midlands (£322m) will receive the highest allocations. The Stronger Towns Fund has been billed as a boost to places considered particularly at risk of adverse consequences from the Brexit process, although the Government has today stressed that the fund will proceed regardless of the detail of the Brexit process yet to unfold (i.e. whether by "deal" or "no deal" as at end of March 2019).
Following the EU Referendum result in 2016, there was wide-spread recognition that certain areas of the UK had been "left behind", not sharing in the proceeds of growth in the same way as more prosperous parts of the country. To help tackle this and improve the UK's productivity as a whole, this new fund will invest in projects which improve the UK's productivity and share prosperity.
Announcing the Stronger Towns Fund, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
"For too long in our country prosperity has been unfairly spread. Our economy has worked well for some places but we want it to work for all communities. Communities across our country voted for Brexit as an expression of their desire to see change – that change must be for the better, with more opportunity and greater control."
How to apply
The Government has yet to publish information on the application process, however it is understood that the point of contact for the regional allocations will be the Local Enterprise Partnerships, probably in similar fashion to the administration of the existing Local Growth Fund. The £600m competitive bidding process is likely to be run by the Ministry for Communities and Local Government.
Post-Brexit public funding
Following the EU Referendum result, there had been concern that EU Funds may not be replaced. However the Government appears eager to avoid such a scenario. It announced the new £650m Future High Streets Fund at Christmas (Expressions of Interest must be submitted by 22nd March 2019) and we understand that the consultation for the United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund (intended to act as a replacement for previous EU funds) will be launched in the coming weeks. These funds build upon the existing public funding available for regeneration projects including the £9bn City and Growth Deals and the £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund.
DWF's specialist Public Sector law team has extensive experience of advising on a wide variety applications for grant funding, advising both applicants and grant authorities. If you wish to discuss the fund in more detail please get in touch with Jonathan Branton or Alexander Rose.