Local Government Association chair Lord Porter has defended the MInistry for Housing, Communities & Local Government over its high street clean-up fund, after it was criticised for coming with what many senior council officers view as unreasonable strings attached.
The £9.75m funding pot, which was announced on Monday, will see councils get between £2,000 and £195,000 each, depending on population size. However, a letter to chief executives on Monday evening said it must be spent by the end of the financial year and councils will be expected to demonstrate in detail how it has been spent. It also implied that if councils did not spend the money as intended they could lose out on future regeneration funding.
As LGC reported yesterday, many council chiefs were derisive about the amount offered and the level of strings attached to it.
However, Lord Porter dismissed the concerns.
He said: “It’s great that the government has found a little bit of money for an important issue and recognised that it can make a big difference. It’s also good that they’re expecting it to be spent straight away and not get lost in some long-winded corporate planning exercise.
“I am sure every good council in the country has got lots of plans on the shelf waiting for a little bit of cash.”
The funding has been made available ahead of the Great British Spring Clean campaign, which runs from this Friday until 22 April, and with local elections just six weeks away. Many councils are likely to have events already planned that could be funded through the extra cash.
A spokesperson for the ministry said: “We recognise that this is a challenging time for many retailers on our high streets. That is why the government is taking action to support councils’ efforts to keep our high streets buzzing.
“This £9.75m funding will give local authorities an opportunity to do more, with community-led approaches to street clean-ups.”