The High Street Innovation Fund was part of the government’s response to Mary Portas’ review of the high street. However, Freedom of Information requests submitted by Paul Turner-Mitchell, who contributed to the High Street Review, suggest that only 7% of the money in the fund has actually been spent.
The money was awarded to 100 councils with the worst affected high streets in England. The government told the BBC that it preferred the money was spent “strategically and wisely” rather than quickly and wasted. Of the 72 councils that responded, 47 said they hadn’t spent a penny. So far, just over £519,000 out of £7.2m has been spent.
Mr Turner-Mitchell said it was maddening that money continued to sit in council bank accounts when there was a crisis on the high street. He said: “Looking at these figures you can only conclude that councils are either complacent about the problems on the high street or they simply don’t know what to do about it. Either way, ministers need to look at ways of getting high street funding out to the coalface much quicker.”
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