The Towns Fund is at the heart of government’s ambition to levelling up places that have historically lacked investment and opportunity, enabling local economic growth and regeneration. Worth a total of more than £2.4 billion, all 101 towns that were selected for the programme received their Town Deal offers, paving the way for delivery of nearly 800 projects across England.
From the outset, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) understood that to build stronger and more resilient local economies and communities, towns would need advice and support to secure and deliver their Town Deals and took the step to appoint a delivery partner to provide it. It also represented a new way of working for government that of itself would help inform the shape of future funding delivery models and programmes.
The Towns Fund Delivery Partner (TFDP), a consortium of six private sector organisations working as one team with each fulfilling distinct strategic functions and bringing specialist expertise, provided direct support to towns by working with them, not for them, often acting as a critical friend. Arup as consortium lead and with a multi-disciplinary role across the programme and service delivery was supported by: Nichols Group leading on management and operations; Copper Consultancy as communications and engagement lead; FutureGov, learning and experience, governance and leadership lead; Grant Thornton, funding and investment, monitoring and evaluation, data insight lead; and Savills providing specialist place-based expertise.
Between May 2020 and November 2021, the TFDP helped towns across four cohorts to develop a vision for their towns, produce Town Investment Plans to secure Town Deal offers and provided early-stage support to develop Business Cases for agreed projects. At its height, the TFDP had over 260 team members representing 13 disciplines and 16 topic areas across the breadth of the country.
Strategic capabilities on SLG including Head of Learning and Experience, Head of Leadership and Governance and embedding Theory of Change and project learning across the programme; programme design and set-up support, design and delivery of the TTOF and learning/ insight reports; programme design and lead for two Place Leadership Programmes including coaching to Board Chairs and Town Leads; lead and delivery of Making Connections Count programme on community networks; storytelling lead and delivery; town-facing delivery by Town Coordinators; discipline and topic experts including leadership, governance, housing, homelessness, skills and education.