Towns vitality roadmap

Think tank: Social Market Foundation

Author(s): Aveek Bhattacharya; Sam Robinson

September 19, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Social Market Foundation looks at a new policy framework for the UK’s towns.

Towns are the backbone of our economy, the heart of our communities, and the engine of job creation. Yet they often face significant challenges, including funding allocation, skills challenges, infrastructure issues and digital adoption. In a time of economic uncertainty, rising living costs, and productivity challenges, it is crucial to create the right conditions for towns, helping them to thrive and grow.

This SMF report builds on previous work creating a typology of towns, each with different strengths and weaknesses. It identifies a number of policy priorities for the different types of towns, and puts forward recommendations for towns falling short in these areas. These include fostering local digital skills development and collaboration; promoting digital enablement for local small businesses and enabling startup ecosystems in towns through public-private partnerships; enhancing transportation and connectivity across towns and promoting digital inclusion; promoting sustainable businesses and communities through circularity and resource efficiency; and collaborative town empowerment and alignment of a long-term strategic vision.