The Levelling Up Fund prospectus was published with the Budget on 3 March. It will invest £4.8 billion in high value local infrastructure.
Here are the 10 key things you need to know about the Fund:
- UK-wide -The Fund is UK-wide but intended for places that need it the most such as ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and coastal communities.
- Places’ Categorisation – places have been categorised as 1, 2, or 3, with category 1 representing places with the highest levels of identified need.
- Cross-department – The Fund brings together the Department for Transport, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury and each phase of funding will priorities a range of projects across departments.
- Treasury Green Book Review – Project appraisal will incorporate the revised approach of the Green Book announced at Budget 2020 to “make sure that government investment spreads opportunity across the UK.” The revised Green Book contains new guidance on place-based analysis.
- Shovel-ready – The first round of the Fund closes for bids in June and will prioritise bids that can demonstrate investment or begin delivery on the ground in the 2021-22 financial year. All funding provided from the Fund to be spent by 31 March 2024, and, exceptionally, into 2024-25 for larger schemes. There will be future opportunities to bid in subsequent rounds.
- Competitive Bidding – The Levelling Up Fund is a competitive fund and bids will be prioritised that can demonstrate investment or begin delivery on the ground in the coming financial year. The 2020 Spending Review allocated up to £600 million in 2021-22.
- Local Authority role – Funding will be delivered through local authorities and every local authority can submit at least one bid for projects that require up to £20m of funding.
- Capacity funding – A flat £125,000 of capacity funding will be allocated to all eligible local authorities – defined in the prospectus as those most in need of levelling up as identified in the place index – to support bids for later rounds of the Fund. Local authorities will not be able to use the capacity funding in time to support bids for the first round.
- Members of Parliament – Local MPs will back one bid that they see as a priority – local authorities can submit one bid for every MP whose constituency lies wholly within their boundary. The prospectus states that such support from local MPs is not a necessary condition for a successful bid, however, it is clear from the prospectus that this will be an important factor.
- Prioritisation of Places – the Government published the methodology note on 11th March confirming that low productivity and long commutes to work were prioritised, rather than wider measures of deprivation such as those used for the Index of Multiple Deprivation.