Levelling Up Fund
• A major opportunity to access new funding, but time is tight
• SYSTRA can help you at all stages of the bidding process
The Levelling Up Fund (LUF) was launched in the March 2021 Budget, replacing previous Government funding streams such as the Local Growth Fund and the Pinch Point Fund. The Fund allows all local authorities the chance to access a share of £4.8bn of capital investment – up to £4bn in England and at least £800m in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Fund is focused on providing new opportunities for towns and places that have been left behind by past funding streams or have particular investment needs that can aid their regeneration and recovery. The Fund focuses on three key areas of capital investment:
- Local transport infrastructure that improves local connectivity for people
- Urban regeneration projects that can fuel economic recovery
- Cultural assets that can be improved or repurposed to foster greater civic pride
Projects that can span these three investment priorities in an integrated manner may well be favoured strongly by Government. Funding of up to £20m is available across all projects, although transport investment with a demonstrably strong business case can extend to up to £50m. Neighbouring authorities are encouraged to work together on schemes where there are clear cross-boundary synergies – for instance in a public transport corridor proposal linking two towns and the communities in between them.
A first round of bids is now open with a submission deadline of 18 June 2021. Bids must be for schemes that are ready to start on site by the end of March 2022. Funding bids will be assessed by Government on four criteria:
- Characteristics of the places to benefit from investment
- The deliverability of schemes in terms of progress of design, governance, procurement and the identification and mitigation of risks
- Strategic fit with local priorities
- Value for money
Alignment with Government’s Net Zero goals will also be important. These criteria closely align with HM Treasury’s Green Book processes for developing business cases. Stakeholder engagement is an important part of building the case for proposals under all of the above criteria.
All local authorities can bid for these funds:
- Unitary, District and Metropolitan District councils can bid for multiple schemes, with the maximum number defined by the number of parliamentary constituencies wholly within your area
- County Councils and Combined Authorities with transport powers can bid for one transport scheme in their area.
Working together across councils to form a co-ordinated package within your area may add value to proposals and boost the prospects of a successful bid.
There will be further rounds of funding bids over the next three years. Some up-front capacity funding (£125,000) will be available assist authorities in developing those bids, but not for this first round.
SYSTRA can assist you in turning around these bids within the short timescale available. The areas of work where we can help you are set out below – we will happily work with you on all aspects set out below if necessary.
Time is tight and there may not be time to undertake a full tendering process. We can work with you to find legitimate and compliant ways to commission us directly for this work, saving time and effort for focusing on the task in hand.
We have significant recent experience that equips us to help you work up a strong Levelling Up Fund bid.
Our key people that can assist with your Levelling Up Fund bids are already thinking about the key challenges relating to submitting a bid in June. Their contact details can be found in the right margin of this page. These contacts are backed up by SYSTRA’s multi-disciplinary transport consultancy workforce of over 300 consultants:
Identifying strong proposals
"Casting the net wide and setting some simple multi-disciplinary criteria can help to quickly identify the best schemes and focus your thinking on packaging them together."
"Investing in stakeholder engagement now can bring great benefits – it builds rapid momentum for supported proposals and gives early warning to proposals that may not have full local support."
Completion of submissions
"Our experience in both preparing and reviewing funding bids and business cases means that we know the right language to use, the right areas to emphasise and the key areas that will drive a successful bid."