On 27 July 2019 the Prime Minister announced that the £3.6 billion Towns Fund would support an initial 100 town deals across England.
The fund is part of the Government’s plan to level up our regions and create a more united country, one where people throughout the UK can benefit from our shared prosperity.
This Government is committed to decentralise funding and decisions away from Whitehall. We have invested in the growth of local economies and devolving powers through agreeing ambitious City and Growth Deals, devolving more than £9 billion of funding to Local Enterprise Partnerships and introducing eight metro mayors in England.
However, many towns have not benefited from city-focused investment and we know that for the country to succeed, every place must play its part.
Last week I announced the 100 places I will be inviting to develop proposals for town deals. These include towns that are birthplaces of industry, that have been centres of commerce for centuries and that are bastions of the maritime economy along our coastline.
These are famous towns with great histories that unfortunately do not feel they have received benefits from the growth we are seeing elsewhere in the UK economy.
That is why we will work with these places to develop proposals for transformative investments in infrastructure, skills and culture through the Towns Fund. These deals will include the new homes, improved transport and broadband connectivity that towns need, as well as social and cultural infrastructure - from libraries and art centres to parks and vital public services. These investments will boost productivity and sustainably raise living standards, bringing communities together and giving places new energy and life.
We know that every place is different. That is why we will work with towns across the country to listen and give greater power to communities when developing innovative proposals for their area. I want Government to better understand the local assets towns have and the challenges they face. It will be through the Towns Fund that we can support these places to harness their unique strengths for future growth and community resilience.
We want to make sure that all parts of the UK can benefit from resources to boost productivity and living standards. We are in ongoing discussions with colleagues across Her Majesty’s Government about how we can better support our towns in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and make sure areas throughout the UK share in the opportunities of Brexit.
I will publish a Towns Fund prospectus shortly in order to provide greater detail on how the fund will operate. This document will set out eligibility criteria for funding and the rigorous process by which proposals will be considered, including our expectations for community involvement and maximising the impact of spending. We will then begin working with places across the country to support them in developing their proposals for the future. Their best years lie ahead of them.
The list of places I announced last week can be found here.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords