Levelling Up Fund to boost growth all over the UK

A multibillion-pound fund to level-up opportunities is being extended so that people in every region and nation of the UK can benefit.

£4.8 billion will now be invested in local projects, such as regeneration and transport, in all parts of the UK, ensuring the government provides the same support to communities across the UK as the UK builds back better from the coronavirus pandemic.

The initial £4 billion will now be made £4.8 billion as the scheme becomes UK-wide. The UK Government will use the financial assistance power in the UK Internal Market Act to ensure that the Levelling Up Fund is equally distributed in all four nations.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay, said that communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will now all benefit from at least £800 million of investment by the UK Government for town centre and high street regeneration, local transport, cultural and heritage projects. Taking this UK-wide approach makes sure that the UK Government can target funding more efficiently and responsibly between different parts of the country.

The Levelling Up Fund, which was announced at the Spending Review, will invest in local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities. It will run from 2021/22 to 2024/25, and drive regeneration in places in need, those facing particular challenges, and areas that have received less government investment in recent years. Because such places exist across the UK – including in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – this support is being extended across the whole of the United Kingdom.

Since 2015, the UK government has invested billions in local growth funding including:

  • Committing to 20 City and Growth Deals covering the whole of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These ensure that all individuals can benefit from nearly £2.9 billion of direct UK government investment.
  • Agreement of nine mayoral devolution deals for city-regions across the country, representing £7.5 billion of un-ringfenced ‘gainshare’ investment over 30 years for Mayoral Combined Authorities to invest in local priorities.
  • Up to £600 million of investment over 20 years through the West Yorkshire plus Transport Fund, agreed as part of the 2014 Leeds City Region Growth Deal, as well as up to £500 million over 15-20 years for the Greater Cambridge Partnership, agreed as part of the Greater Cambridge City Deal.

Moreover, all parts of the UK have benefited from the UK government’s £280 billion economic support package which has protected millions of jobs throughout the pandemic through the furlough scheme, self-employed support and generous business loans. The response to the pandemic has shown that the UK government has successfully saved jobs and protected people throughout the UK.

Making the Levelling Up Fund UK-wide will enable the government to provide the same support to communities in all parts of the UK as we build back better from Covid and to take a strategic approach across the whole of the UK, allocating funding in all parts of the country irrespective of administrative borders. Along with the government’s plans for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the Levelling Up Fund will ensure a package of UK Government support which invests in skills, infrastructure and innovation at local, regional and national levels.

The new UK Levelling Up Fund is just one way the government is investing in jobs and future prosperity, of each nation across the UK. A package of measures are being implemented to level up opportunity across all parts of the UK, including City and Region Growth Deals, Freeports, the Union Connectivity Review, and a new UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The Levelling Up Fund will supersede existing local growth funding streams, such as the Local Growth Fund, Pinch Points Fund, and future rounds of the Towns Fund – working directly with local areas across the UK to take a holistic approach to their needs.

Further details on how the Fund will operate will be published in the prospectus at Budget – including who can bid, the types of projects eligible for funding, and the criteria for assessing proposals.

Image: Cardiff Bay, the Capital of Wales, UK, by Stephen Davies / Adobe Stock

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About Simon Wright

Simon Wright writes about infrastructure, construction and real estate finance.

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