Towns need five-year guaranteed cash pots to hit one of Boris Johnson ’s key manifesto promises, a report says today (THU).

The UK’s official infrastructure advisers say areas with poor transport connections will need around £6 billion per year in order to ‘level up’ their local infrastructure.

A report published by the National Infrastructure Commission says councils are currently “competing against each other” for investment which “burns up staff time”.

Instead experts have called for a “dual track” approach of devolved, flexible budgets based on population and local network size which will help areas with poor transport connections and develop others where new industries could spring up.

The report warns: “Failure to empower local authorities to deliver local infrastructure will lead the Government to fail in its levelling up goals.”

Michael Gove is heading up the new Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (

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Calls for powers to be devolved to local councils have been backed by the International Trade Committee.

Today (THU) the Committee urges the Government to set out exactly how funding will support its wider levelling-up goals.

In a separate report titled 'Inward Foreign Direct Investment' the Committee said the Government's levelling up White Paper should "reference policy on infrastructure, skills, higher education, integrating with Global Value Chains and further devolution of powers in the English regions".

Commissioner Bridget Rosewell says: “Levelling up cannot be done from Whitehall.

“Every English town faces a different set of challenges and opportunities and local leaders are best placed to develop strategies to address these.

“Competing against other councils for multiple pots of cash creates a focus on the short term, continual uncertainty, and burns up staff time.

“Local councils need to be empowered to deliver transformational plans for the future and held accountable for doing so.”

Councillor David Renard, economy spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: “Reducing and simplifying the number of funding streams available to councils and providing long-term certainty will help councils plan and deliver better transport and connectivity across the country.”

The findings come after the Government asked the commission in March to review how infrastructure investment can best support the needs of different town-sized settlements.

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