In July 2019, the government announced its intention to support a selection of struggling towns across England to develop and sustain strong local economies through the £3.6 billion Towns Fund. Officials from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (the Department) designed a process to support Ministers to select towns that gave them scope to use their own judgement on which towns to select. Officials provided Ministers with information on the need and growth potential of towns across England in a prioritised and ranked list, from which Ministers selected 101 towns. Ministers selected all 40 high-priority towns, then selected 61 from the pool of 501 low- and medium-priority towns, for which they recorded their reasons for selection. Officials later reviewed the Ministers’ selection of towns against the required tests set out in HM Treasury’s Managing public money, concluding the selection was appropriate. The National Audit Office’s report sets out in detail the process followed by the Department to select the 101 towns. In September 2019, the Department published its selection of towns and invited them to set up a Town Deal Board and bid for funding to implement a Town Deal that departmental officials would agree—a plan setting out the town’s investment priorities to drive growth. The Department is currently assessing bids submitted by the first cohort of 13 towns.
Published: 11 November 2020