The government has defended a £9.5m fund to help clean up Britain’s high streets, after it was claimed local authorities only have less than two weeks to spend the money.
The ministry of housing, communities and local government (MHCLG) announced on 16 March it was giving councils across England a total of £9.75m to organise events and support community groups taking part in the Great British Spring Clean Campaign, which starts on March 22.
The grants range from just over £2,000 for the Isles of Scilly Council to £194,000 for Birmingham City Council, with an average for each local authority of £29,000.
The chief executive of Tunbridge Wells Council, William Benson said on Twitter his local authority has received a letter from MHCLG which states it should ‘spend some of it on initiatives on Friday, 10% accounting for it and evaluating it, and all of it by the end of March’, which is less than two weeks away.
In response, an MHCLG spokesperson 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.’
Earlier this month, the government faced criticism over its recent £1.6bn post-Brexit Stronger Town Fund.
More than 60 Labour council leaders wrote to the prime minister, claiming the money was a ‘drop in the ocean’ and added the Tories have failed to ‘address the needs of the towns, cities, and regions we represent’.
The Great British Spring Clean Campaign has been organised by Keep Britain Tidy and runs from 22 March to 23 April.