Government tells Steve McCabe they are not keeping tabs on how High Street Innovation money is spent

Steve McCabe MP has been probing the Department for Communities and Local Government about the use of the High Street Innovation Fund after reports that only 7% of the £10 million fund had actually been spent.

 

This £10 million government fund was set up over a year ago to help bring empty shops back into use, but it appears this has been barely touched. The money was awarded to 100 councils with the worst affected High Streets in England, but, as reported by the BBC, Freedom of Information requests suggest that only 7% of the money has actually been spent.

 

When Steve asked the Minister for the Department for Communities and Local Government how much of the fund has been allocated and what has been classified as under-spend, he was told that no central data is being collected on the use of the High Street Innovation Fund.

 

Lifford Business Association, based in Steve’s constituency, originally applied to become a Portas Pilot, which was in response to Mary Portas’ review of the high street, but unfortunately was not selected and neither were any other bids from Birmingham.

 

Lifford Business Association works within Stirchley, Cotteridge, Bournville and Kings Norton and have recently focussed a lot of attention on Stirchley High Street, which has a large proportion of empty shops. The Association have been working with local community groups and recently put on a mini-festival, Love Stirchley More, celebrating all that Stirchley and the surrounding areas have to offer. Unfortunately the Lifford Business Association missed out on a slice of the High Street Innovation Fund which was given to Birmingham City Council to allocate. Instead all the money the council were given was allocated to one group and not shared across the city.

 

Steve McCabe MP said:

“It is very frustrating when you have an organisation like the Lifford Business Association, who are working really hard for the local area and doing really vital stuff to rejuvenate our high streets, that aren’t getting the support they need.

 

“The Government has set aside £10 million to do just that but they have dished it out to local authorities, a lot of whom are just not spending the money.

 

“I can’t quite believe that the Government isn’t keeping tabs on how this money is spent and how it is making a different to our high streets, what incentive does this give to local authorities?

 

“I want to see the Government claw back money that isn’t being spent and give it to organisations like the Lifford Business Association who really need funding to help them continue the crucial work they are doing to bring our high streets back from the brink.”

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