5 Critical Success Factors for a Levelling Up Fund bid

In November 2020, the UK Government announced “The Levelling Up Fund”, with an aim of investment in local infrastructure projects that would have a tangible impact on people, communities and economic recovery.

The fund hopes to address regional disparities and promote growth and prosperity in areas that may have historically been left behind, or experienced economic challenges. Projects such as improving transportation infrastructure, upgrading local facilities, investing in cultural and community assets and enhancing digital connectivity were cited as areas likely to receive funding.

With a total value of £4.8 billion, The Levelling Up Fund has already gone through two funding rounds focusing on three investment themes; transport projects, town centre and high street regeneration and cultural investment.

With indications that round 3 of The Levelling Up Fund will be announced imminently, what are the key points to consider when planning a bid?

Levelling Up Fund Bidding – 5 key success factors

There are many worthwhile projects bidding for a slice of the Levelling Up Fund pie; but only a specific amount of funding to be shared around. With this in mind, what are the most important factors to bear in mind when preparing your bid?

1. Remember why The Levelling Up Fund exists

The Levelling Up Fund was introduced specifically as an investment tool for “local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities and will support economic recovery”. It is not a standard scheme for capital projects and bids need to encapsulate the community and pride-in-place aspects of providing an opportunity to level up.

When preparing your bid, keep the benefits to people and community front of mind, refer to the impact of similar projects and be clear in the projected results of the project you are bidding for. Alignment with Fund objectives will go a long way to your bid receiving serious consideration.

2. Illustrate a fit with published strategies

Rather than approaching your bid as a one-off project specifically aimed at accessing monies from The Levelling Up Fund, ensure that the scheme is demonstrably part of a wider strategy.

There will always be challenges in presenting high-quality bids for projects that are brand new, or in the very early stages. Marrying your bid scheme to an existing economic, infrastructure, community or people strategy for the area illustrates preparedness and indicates delivery success.

3. Review stats on past funding approvals to improve success rates

While only 20% of Levelling Up Fund Round 2 bids were approved, schemes that focused on culture and transport had the highest chance of success, as they were least over-subscribed.

In the last round the breakdown of successful projects across the UK was:

Theme Funding Value (£m) Number of Projects
Regeneration and Town Centre 760 44
Cultural 548 31
Transport 644 26
Transport and Regeneration 39 2
Transport and Cultural 15 1
Regeneration and Cultural 81 7

Project fit within under-subscribed themes can be a facilitator of success.

4. Consider what you are bringing to the project

While there is no defined requirement to provide any kind of “match” funding to fund bids, a contribution can increase the chance of success.

Providing project funding at a local level shows commitment to the scheme, and illustrates preparedness in terms of the project being both feasible, sustainable and impactful.

5. Show evidence that the project can be successfully delivered

Another area that can increase chances of bid success is being able to evidence complete deliverability. If a bid team is able to show planning, funding and other permissions as pre-approved, the chances of having that bid approved go up.

Projects that are well-planned, realistic and have a high chance of successful implementation will be more likely to receive funding. Additionally, showcasing how the project will have a lasting impact and contribute to the sustainable development of the area may enhance the bid.

Creating a robust Levelling Up Fund Bid

To maximise the chances of success in securing finance from The Levelling Up Fund, the above five factors form the most critical components of a robust bid.

Of course, there are other areas to consider in your bid. Showing evidence of need via the demonstration of a clear and compelling case for the necessity of the project in the region is a must. Providing evidence of economic challenges, infrastructure deficiencies or other recognised issues can add strength to the bid.

Public support and collaboration is another area that can add value to a bid. Having support from local communities, business and stakeholders can be influential. Engaging in collaborative efforts with relevant organisations can enhance credibility.

And it goes without saying, but value for money is an important factor and projects that demonstrate the expected benefits and outcomes justify the cost may be prioritised.

Even bearing all of the above in mind, the creation of a Levelling Up Fund bid can seem overwhelming in terms of standing out to successfully secure the funding. At Mickledore, we are experts in building successful business cases, so please contact us if you would like to discuss your next bid.

Written by Lois McLuckie, Marketing Associate

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