A Freedom of Information Act disclosure has today been reported by the BBC showing that the £10m government fund set up a year ago to help bring empty shops back into use has barely been touched.
The High Street Innovation Fund was part of the government’s response to Mary Portas’ review of the High Street (Loughborough being one of the Mary Portas towns originally). The BBC is today reporting that only 7% of the money in the fund has actually been spent.
Of the 72 councils that responded, 47 said they hadn’t spent a penny. So far, just £519,363.22 out of £7.2m has been spent – that’s about 7%.
One of the most effective uses reported has been Wyre Forest District Council which has spent £12,000 on bringing 10 empty shops back into use. But others have been less obviously within the scope of the funding, with one council spending £10,900 on Christmas lights, and another spending £10,038 on a train station ramp. Swale Borough Council in Kent spent £164.60 on a snow machine.
The funds are typically £100,000 per town, which whilst some may say is not a huge amount, you certainly get better results if you actually spend some of it.
In Loughborough the BID team has generated funds from other sources too and has been spending £430,000 on rejuvenating the town centre. As a business based in the town centre, there are very few empty units here and we all benefit from the busy footfall as the local community continues to support the town centre. In a time where some of the High Street retail giants are closing, the town centres such as Loughborough are showing resilience with a large number of small independent businesses. Long may it last!
Leanne is a Chartered Tax Adviser, specializing in advising on UK tax matters but also including overseas tax as needed. Leanne is head of Taxation Services at EHL Solicitors in Leicester.Talk to our legal team
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