The government is launching a major new fund to boost economic prosperity across the country, giving local communities a greater say in their future after the UK leaves the European Union.

The £1.6 billion Stronger Towns Fund will be targeted at areas that have not shared in the proceeds of growth in the same way as more prosperous places. It will be used to create new jobs, help train local people and enhance economic activity.

Launching this year, the initiative is said to be part of the government’s commitment to build a more prosperous economy ‘that works for everyone’.

£1 billion of the Fund’s budget will be allocated using a needs-based formula. £583 million will be awarded to towns across the north of England, with a further £322 million allocated to the Midlands. Communities will be able to draw up job-boosting plans for their town, with the support and advice of their Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The government aims to ensure that towns across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will also benefit from the new funding. Therefore, £600 million will be available through a competitive bidding process to communities in any part of the country. Local leaders will be encouraged to come together to draw up proposals to ‘restore pride’ and create new local jobs.

Announcing the programme, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“For too long in our country, prosperity has been unfairly spread. Our economy has worked well for some places but we want it to work for all communities.

“Communities across the country voted for Brexit as an expression of their desire to see change – that must be a change for the better, with more opportunity and greater control.

“These towns have a glorious heritage, huge potential and, with the right help, a bright future ahead of them.”