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.

FutureGov has played a key strategic role in helping shape and inform a learning programme and other services for towns. The learning programmes - Place Leadership and Making Connections Count have been particularly innovative and well-received by all towns who have participated in them.

Louis Mayhew

Funding Delivery Portfolio Office Cities & Local Growth Unit, Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

Putting the Towns’ needs first

Based upon a town-centric and continuous learning approach to understand towns’ challenges, what they needed and when the TFDP was able to design and refine the support it offered as the programme progressed. It delivered advice and support at a range of levels that aimed to add value rather than duplicating resources already available to towns.

Open to all, foundational support was delivered and is still available, via a dedicated Towns Fund website featuring online resources including good practice guides, case studies, downloadable tools and templates, ONS data dashboard, blogs with hints and tips, Our Town Stories and an option to register for a weekly newsletter.

In coloured boxes, white text explains how many resources were created for towns during the project.

Always listening to towns, the TFDP also had regional teams comprising dedicated relationship managers assigned to each town. These Town Coordinators offered day-to-day advice, were the first point of contact for towns throughout the programme, and the gateway to discipline and topic specialists either providing customised or targeted support.

Customised support and peer-to-peer learning among groups of towns with common needs included small-group learning workshops, masterclasses, working groups, learning programmes and large group webinars with recordings and slide presentations accessible via the website as a catch-up function.

Targeted support provided towns with one-to-one advice from regional discipline specialists available to respond quickly - in visioning and strategy, community engagement, funding and finance, and business case development - and wider specialist topic support across more than 25 areas.

Co-design and partnership

Working alongside the Towns Fund central team and Cities and Local Growth Unit (CLGU) Area Leads, the TFDP was committed to the principle of co-design and co-working with government. TFDP’s insights gleaned through its bottom-up approach, helped DLUHC develop its guidelines and requirements, identify the level and type of support provided to help towns that needed it most, and allowed for continuous improvements in delivery. A Total Towns Outcomes Framework questionnaire also gained understanding of towns’ longer-term priorities and desired outcomes.

TFDP and programme performance was measured using bespoke KPIs and monitored via dashboards and reports, allowing the TFDP to focus on supporting towns and adapting delivery to meet town and programme needs.

It also applied social value principles to its role by drawing from a diverse team working for small and large businesses spread geographically across the UK, employing apprentices to work on the programme and offering towns’ access to social value experts. A Panel of Brilliant People was devised by the TFDP bringing together local representatives with diverse backgrounds from 23 communities across England to tackle the question of how good green growth could work for everyone. In participating, panellists’ gained new experiences, growth and networking opportunities that culminated in presenting their recommendations to government.


All of the products that the FutureGov team have produced such as the Learning Reports, Total Towns Framework and the materials that accompany the learning programmes have been of extremely high quality and have had positive feedback.

Louis Mayhew

Funding Delivery Portfolio Office Cities & Local Growth Unit, Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

A graphic showing the impact of the towns fund, how many towns supported and investments made in coloured blocks

TFDP’s legacy so far

It will be many years before tangible success is evident in towns when projects are built and local people and communities experience positive differences to their lives. What can be measured is how towns have responded to the TFDP’s support, what they have learned and the milestones that each has reached.

For towns

  • helped secure their Town Deal offers and prepare them for the next stages towards delivery
  • provided access to a place-based learning resource relevant for all UK towns and places that are open to all
  • shared towns’ pride in telling their stories

The Storytelling workstream has also been a particular highlight as a highly creative, different and interesting approach for towns to tell their journey through the Towns Fund Programme.

Louis Mayhew

Funding Delivery Portfolio Office Cities & Local Growth Unit, Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

For local authorities and Town Deal Boards

  • gained collective knowledge and capabilities through peer-to-peer place-based learning
  • acquired new personal skills and training accreditation
  • brought towns together to support each other around common challenges, in sharing ideas and best practice, and helping create new connections and mentoring between towns

For local people, businesses and communities

  • supported the creation of an environment where they can participate and shape the future of their towns, and build confidence in their new capabilities to deliver their Town Deals and other future initiatives

For DLUHC and government

  • offered current insights into real challenges and barriers to sustainable growth, and what support works at town level to help build resilient places
  • created a new approach to delivering government investment programmes between central and local government, that is informing the shape of future policy and delivery
  • brought together new and direct links between other government departments, Arms-Length Bodies and towns

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