As a key part of the Prime Minister’s speech today championing investment and growth as the route out of economic inequality, £900 million has been allocated to a range of ‘shovel ready’ local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next. This will ensure quick and tangible returns on the investment of public money. The Prime Minister noted in his speech that too often investment takes years or decades to be realised, driving disillusionment amongst the public at the lack of visible progress with new innovations. The government is determined to expedite its programme of reform and investment in our towns, schools, hospitals and infrastructure.
As just one part of this goal, £96 million has been announced by the Prime Minister to accelerate investment in town centres and high streets through the Towns Fund this year. This will be allocated to the 101 towns which are eligible for Town Deals (including Telford) with between £500,000 and £1 million to be used for local projects such as improvements to parks, high streets, and transport in each town.
The Towns Fund, totalling some £3.6 billion, is being allocated to towns to drive growth, investment and regeneration across the country. A board composed of local stakeholders and politicians convened in each town is tasked with developing the ‘Town Deal’ – a programme for investment using the Towns Fund.
The Towns Fund is targeted at areas with proud industrial and economic heritage that have not always benefited from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas. Today’s announcement brings the first tranche of money from the Fund to help each area meet some of the immediate challenges they face as a result of COVID-19 and invest in shovel ready projects that will improve their town centres forward, from new cycle lanes and better pedestrian access to repurposing empty shops to create new community spaces.
This builds on the £3.2 billion the Government has provided to local authorities throughout the coronavirus pandemic, to help them keep key local services running. The funding has meant that local authorities have been able to continue to provide essential services, including getting rough sleepers off the street, supporting people who have been shielding and providing vital social care.
As a board member of the Telford Towns Fund, Lucy Allan MP has championed the role skills, connectivity and the renewal of Telford’s high streets and town centre in growing Telford’s economy and driving innovation and job creation in the Borough. In particular, Lucy is lobbying to ensure that the Telford fund is used to support digital skills and technology accelerators – a model of collegiate working between start-up businesses that drives dynamism in Telford’s already strong manufacturing and technological sectors.
The Chancellor will provide a further economic update next week, with the Government’s first stage of economic investment to be explained in detail, including the new announcements to increase the funding allocated to the Towns Fund.