Background to the review
On 27 July 2019, the government announced the £3.6 billion Towns Fund for England (The Towns Fund). The Towns Fund is expected to support towns that currently do not have the right conditions to develop and sustain strong local economies, recognising that many towns have not benefited from the growth experienced by cities over recent decades. It aims to provide a selection of struggling towns across England with funding to address issues such as ageing populations, limited regional economic opportunities and lack of investment.
On 6 September 2019, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (the Department) published its selection of 101 towns across England. Each selected town has been invited to bid for up to £25 million, or up to £50 million in exceptional circumstances, from the £3.6 billion Towns Fund to implement an agreed Town Deal.
Content and scope of the review
This review describes the process followed by the Department to select the 101 towns, the results of the selection process and the rationales given for the selected towns. Our review is factual and does not evaluate the selection process or its outcomes. Our review covers:
- the criteria, process and sources of evidence used by the Department to assess and rank towns; and
- the results of the assessments and ranking of towns, which towns were selected and the rationales given for selection.
This report considers only the process for determining the 101 towns invited to develop Town Deals. The two other, separate strands of Towns Fund – the Future High Streets Fund and the upcoming competition for towns – are outside the scope of this report. While the Department has committed to a further competitive element of the Towns Fund, it has not yet decided what this will focus on and ministers have not considered the priorities or criteria to be used to select towns. The Department intends to design the process and any associated methodology for the competitive element of the fund in due course.