The pork barrel politics of the Towns Fund


Chris Hanretty


March 9, 2021

Success rates of different towns in the Towns Deal scheme according to characteristics


The article reviews the selection of towns in England under the Town Deals scheme, a funding scheme set up in the summer of 2019. Under the scheme, 101 towns in England were selected from a long-list of 541 towns to bid for funding to improve local infrastructure. The findings show that Conservative-held areas (and in particular marginal Conservative-held areas) were much more likely to be selected for the scheme, and that this association remains—even when controlling for the ranks that civil servants awarded towns on the basis of qualitative and quantitative criteria. The findings call into question ministers’ commitment, under to the Nolan principle, to take decisions ‘impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias’.


The version of record is open access. You can access it here.

Replication data

Replication data can be found at the Harvard Dataverse.


Hanretty, Chris. 2021. “The Pork Barrel Politics of the Towns Fund.” The Political Quarterly 92 (1): 7–13.