Successive governments have tried to address regional economic disparities and raise productivity through a range of interventions, such as the £12 billion government committed to the Local Growth Fund between 2015-16 and 2020-21.
In the 2020 Spending Review, and 2021 Budget, government reiterated its intention to “level up opportunity across all regions of the UK” through a series of measures for supporting local economic growth. These include the £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (which will replace EU funding for economic development), the creation of eight new Freeports in England, and the continuation of the Towns Fund. The government has also announced its ambition to “build back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic, and create growth throughout the UK, with no region left behind.
This report will consider how well government has learned and applied lessons from previous local growth programmes. It will examine:
- whether government understands what has been effective in supporting local economic growth;
- whether current plans for supporting local economic recovery apply lessons learned from previous programmes; and
- whether government is putting in place effective plans for monitoring, overseeing and evaluating its new local growth interventions.