Swindon MPs Justin Tomlinson and Robert Buckland have welcomed news that the Prime Minister has announced additional funding to level up Swindon. The announcement is part of a wider economic package to accelerate infrastructure projects, fuelling jobs and the country’s economic recovery following coronavirus.
Towns across England that have successfully been selected to receive investment via the Government’s Towns Fund will benefit from a share of £96m to accelerate investment in their town centres and high streets this year.
As part of this, Swindon will receive between £500,000 and £1 million to spend on projects such as improvements to parks, high streets and local transport. It is receiving the funding as one of the 101 towns previously selected for town deals, under the Conservative Government’s plans to level up places across the country.
The Towns Fund is targeted at areas with proud industrial and economic heritage that have not always benefitted from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas. Today’s announcement brings the first tranche of money from the Fund to help each area meet some of the immediate challenges they face as a result of COVID-19 and invest in shovel ready projects that will improve their town centres forward, from new cycle lanes and better pedestrian access to repurposing empty shops to create new community spaces.
The Prime Minister has announced £5 billion to invest in Britain’s infrastructure, as part of the New Deal for Britain, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The package of measures, including improving town centres, is designed to upgrade Britain’s infrastructure and skills to fuel economic recovery across the UK.
This builds on the £3.2 billion the Government has provided to local authorities throughout the coronavirus pandemic, to help them keep key local services running. The funding has meant that local authorities have been able to continue to provide essential services, including getting rough sleepers off the street, supporting people who have been shielding and providing vital social care.
Commenting, Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP and Justin Tomlinson MP said:
“We are delighted that Swindon will receive at least £500,000 from the Stronger Towns fund this year – ahead of schedule – enabling local leaders to accelerate plans that will transform our area and help Swindon to thrive as we move beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
“We welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to invest in infrastructure to unite and level up the country as we come through the coronavirus pandemic.
“The £5billion to bring forward infrastructure projects of all types, from better connected, more modern high streets to new schools and roads, will help to create new jobs and opportunities across Britain, and we will be fighting to ensure our area gets its fair share.”
Notes to Editors
- Launching a £3.6 billion Towns Fund to ensure prosperity and opportunities are available to everyone, not just those in London or our biggest cities. The funding will support an initial 101 towns that have been overlooked and undervalued by Whitehall for too long by improving both transport and digital infrastructure, driving local growth and raising living standards (Prime Minister’s Office, Speech at Manchester Science and Industry Museum, 27 July 2019, link).
- Expanding the Future High Streets Fund to develop 100 high streets. The £1 billion fund can be used to improve transport and access into town centres, convert empty retail units into new homes and workplaces, and invest in vital infrastructure (MHCLG, Press Release, 26 August 2019, link).
- Establishing a new ‘Towns Hub’ in MHCLG to focus relentlessly on levelling up and helping local people develop town investment proposals and supports efforts to transform their towns. Each of the 100 towns supported by the Towns Fund will have a designated contact in the department, and a new expert-led advisory panel, which will include entrepreneurs and people who have delivered real change, will be convened to advise on how to revitalise our towns over the next year and make Whitehall work for local people.
- Investing £5 billion to level up local transport connections throughout the country, making every day journeys easier, greener and more convenient. We will invest £5 billion of new funding to overhaul bus and cycle links for every region outside London over the next five years (Prime Minister’s Office, Press Release, 10 February 2020, link).
- Cutting taxes for high street businesses and other important venues, so they can thrive. We are extending the retail discount on business rates to 50 per cent, and to cinemas and music venues, benefitting up to half a million businesses and giving high streets a £280 million tax cut. During 2020-21 this will be increased to 100 per cent to support small businesses affected by COVID-19, and also be extended to the leisure and hospitality sectors, supporting town centre businesses through this difficult period. We will also introduce an additional business rates relief for pubs, which for 2020-21 will be increased to £5,000 (HMT, Budget 2020, 11 March 2020, link; MHCLG, Press Release, 24 January 2019, link).
- Investing £250 million in innovative cultural projects, libraries, museums and creative industries. The Cultural Investment Fund is the Government’s biggest ever single investment in cultural infrastructure, local museums and neighbourhood libraries and will benefit communities across the country. This will help drive growth, rejuvenate high streets and attract tourists to our world-class cultural attractions (DCMS, Press Release, 12 October 2019, link).
- Giving towns an opportunity to compete in a new Town of the Year competition. The competition aims to celebrate towns’ achievements in areas such as entrepreneurship, technology, community, enterprise and integration, and to help unleash their potential through innovation, creativity and community spirit (MHCLG, Press Release, 9 January 2020, link).