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The Levelling Up Fund was announced at the 2020 Spending Review, and is a competitive fund run by the UK Government that invests in infrastructure across the UK. According to Government figures, the first round of funding from the Levelling Up Fund has supported £1.7 billion of projects across the UK.
Levelling Up remains a key agenda for the UK Government who released the Levelling Up White Paper on 2 February 2022. This sets out 12 missions that the Government is seeking to achieve by 2030 to create equal opportunities across the UK.
On 23 March 2022 the Government announced the prospectus for the second round of Levelling Up funding, setting out key investment themes and eligibility requirements for the next round of applications.
What funding is available?
The Fund will focus on Missions 3 and 9 of the White Paper, concentrating investment on smaller scale local projects that require less than £20 million of funding. Large transport bids and large culture bids for up to £50 million may be accepted.
What type of projects will be supported under Round 2?
Local transport projects that make a genuine difference to local areas;
Town centre and high street regeneration; and
Maintaining and expanding the UK’s world-leading portfolio of cultural and heritage.
How is funding allocated under Round 2?
Funding is distributed to places across the UK on the basis of successful project selection and is targeted towards places that are most in need of the investment. The Fund uses an Index of Priority Places that takes into account the following place characteristics:
- need for economic recovery and growth;
- need for improved transport connectivity; and
- need for regeneration.
Category 1 has been expanded for Round 2 only to capture areas whose levels of need have increased since the Fund was launched, for example as a result of the pandemic, but so as not to disadvantage areas in longer-term need.
Is funding available to help with bids for funding under Round 2?
Yes, local authorities that have moved up to Category 1 as a result of the Index update will receive £125,000.00 to support the preparation and submission of high quality bids for Round 2. This is only for ‘new’ Category 1 places.
Who is eligible to bid for funding under Round 2?
Unitary authorities (including metropolitan borough councils), London borough councils and district councils in two tier areas in England can submit a number of bids for any of the Fund’s three investment priorities equivalent to the total number of whole and partial constituencies within their boundaries.
All unitary authorities in Scotland and Wales, and unitary authorities in England with transport powers can submit a number of bids for any of the Fund’s three investment priorities equivalent to the total number of whole and partial constituencies within their boundaries. They can also submit one further transport-only bid that must be for at least 90% transport (by value).
County councils with transport powers, combined authorities, mayoral combined authorities, and the Greater London Authority (GLA), can also submit one transport-only bid which must be for at least 90% transport (by value).
Are joint bids allowed?
Yes, and this can include joint bids across borders too.
What should applications include?
Investment proposals should focus on supporting high priority and high impact projects that will make a visible positive difference to local areas.
When must funding be spent by?
All funding is expected to be spent by 31 March 2025, and 2025-2026 on an exceptional basis.
Ashfords’ Public Sector Team regularly advise on applications for funding from Central and Local Government funds, including the Levelling Up Fund, including compliance with subsidy control commitments. For further assistance with funding applications, or further details on the UK’s subsidy control commitments, or any other public sector queries, please contact our Public Sector Team who will be more than happy to assist you.