The Future of Struggling Towns in the UK

The UK government has identified that some towns and high streets are prospering while others are lagging behind.

Lagging towns experience physical and digital disconnection from other towns and cities with outdated land use, insufficient skills and business support for high-paying jobs and limited strategic local economic management.

The Towns Fund (TF) is a Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing (DLUHC) fund that aims to address these issues. It composed of:

  • Town Deals (TD): an allocated fund which aims to fund projects that drive towns’ economic regeneration to deliver long-term economic and productivity growth. In 2021, 101 towns in England were selected based on their need to develop TD-funded projects.
  • Future High Streets Fund (FHSF): a competitive fund aiming to finance projects which renew and reshape town centres and high streets to drive growth, improve the experience of public space users, and ensure future economic sustainability. In 2020, 72 places in England successfully secured funding.

DLUHC commissioned Frontier Economics and BMG Research to assess the feasibility of process, impact and value-for-money (VfM) evaluations of the TF consisting of the TD and the FHSF.

In addition, Frontier Economics and BMG Research have also been commissioned to deliver the evaluation. The overall evaluation is to be completed in early 2026.

The main challenges to be addressed within the evaluation include:

  • Diversity of project timelines
  • Diversity of project outcomes
  • Requirement for granular data
  • Place-based evaluation considerations
  • Presence of other local growth funds

The evaluation will include projects that will be completed by April 2025 to allow for at least some short-term outcomes to emerge before the completion of this evaluation in Q1 2026.

Click here to read the full report.