Allocation of the Welcome Back Fund 2021/22
Date of Meeting:
22 July 2021
Executive Director of Economy, Environment and Culture
FOR GENERAL RELEASE
PURPOSE OF REPORT AND POLICY CONTEXT
On 20th March 2021 the government launched a Welcome Back
Fund which was merged with the previously announced Reopening High Streets
Safely Fund. Both are backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
and aim to ensure that city centres and seaside resorts are ready to welcome
back visitors as lockdown restrictions are eased. European funds require all
promotional materials produced to carry the EU logo to acknowledge their
The Reopening the High Streets Safely Fund (RHSS) was allocated to the
city council from 1 June 2020 but was subject to extensive restrictions and a
very short timeline for spend, because of ERDF requirements. This type of EU
funding is generally used for long-term programmes where procurement for large
contracts is possible, not for short-term tactical responses in fast-changing
The Welcome Back Fund as it now stands is an additional allocation which
will be re-claimed from government on evidence of compliant expenditure and in
accordance with guidance that continues to evolve. The fund acknowledges the
significant impact of COVID-19 on tourism and on local high streets. It seeks
to support projects subject to compliant processes and within defined criteria.
In total, £583,538 has been allocated to the Council by government and
£22,061 was spent last year and claimed. The remaining £561,477 has to be
spent by 31st March 2022. For this reason, a project officer has
been recruited to manage the compliance and reclaim processes, with other
contracted staff ready to deliver the programmes.
That the Executive Director for Economy, Environment & Culture be
granted delegated authority to allocate the remaining funding in accordance
with the government’s eligibility criteria and in consultation with business
representatives in line with the proposals set out in the report.
The RHSS fund provided by government was explicitly targeted at the
Support to develop an action plan for how the local authority may
begin to safely reopen their local economies.
Communications and public information activity to ensure that
reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely.
Business-facing awareness raising activities to ensure that
reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and safely.
Temporary public realm changes to ensure that reopening of local
economies can be managed successfully and safely.
The first tranche of spent from the RHSS Fund was allocated to
stewarding and publicity/safety advice, which were government approved
activities, utilising £22,061 of Brighton & Hove’s allocation.
Subsequently, following acknowledgement that the RHSS fund was difficult to
spend because of ERDF restrictions, the Welcome Back Fund was announced by the Communities
Secretary, with additional scope for eligible spend but still with the same
regulations requiring procurement for all activities. The revised fund was announced
as a route to helping boost tourism, through events, improving green spaces or
provide more outdoor seating areas, markets and food stall pop-ups. Government
indicated the fund could be used for the following.
Communications and public information
activity to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed
successfully and safely.
Business-facing awareness raising
activities to ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed
successfully and safely.
Temporary public realm changes to
ensure that reopening of local economies can be managed successfully and
Support and promote a safe public
environment for a local area’s visitor economy.
Support local authorities to develop
plans for responding to the medium-term impact of Covid-19 including trialling
new ideas particularly where these relate to the High Street.
Run publicity campaigns and prepare to hold events like street
markets and festivals to support local businesses.
Boost the look and feel of their
high streets by investing in non-permanent street planting, parks, green spaces
and seating areas to make high streets as beautiful and welcoming as possible.
Install signage and floor
markings to encourage social distancing and safety.
Guidance from government to date on the application of the funds
confirms that councils will not be reimbursed for these new activities where
the spend occurred before the date of the new guidance and that ERDF
requirements, including those around procurement and branding will continue to
apply. All activity needs to be linked to a government approved action plan
and form part of the council’s overall response to the pandemic. This is to
align with the ERDF framework under which this is funded. Government have now
approved the action plan approach outlined in this paper.
The fund allows local authorities in England to put in place additional
measures to create and promote a safe environment for local trade and tourism,
particularly in high streets as their economies reopen. It recognises that the
impact of Covid-19 on local economies is significant. Local authorities can
therefore also use the fund to develop plans for responding to these impacts,
this could include considering how other funding streams could help address
those challenges in the future.
Part of the fund will be used to provide support for coastal resorts
across England to support areas as they prepare for a great summer to safely
welcome holiday makers in the coming months.
Activities out of scope:
that provides no additionality - government recognises that local
authorities will already be delivering activity to ensure the safe reopening of
their economies. This funding is intended to be additional funding on top of
that existing activity; it should not be replacing the source for already
committed expenditure. If an in-house department undertakes works (e.g.
additional road markings) the staff costs associated with this activity would
not be eligible, although additional materials purchased for this purpose would
This is a revenue only funding project intended to address the
longer-term impact of Covid-19 on local economies. This can include activities
that last as long as restrictive measures are in place as well as activities
that help future proof high streets. Permanent changes are therefore not
to businesses – Funding cannot provide direct financial support to
businesses to make adaptations to premises, purchase PPE, purchase goods or
equipment or offset wages or other operating costs.
Central Government expects local authorities to engage with stakeholders
including local businesses, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), Destination
Management Organisations (DMO), town and parish councils. Consultation with
stakeholders has already commenced and once competed the action plan to deliver
on the fund’s requirements will be agreed and funded activity will be procured.
PROPOSED ALLOCATION OF 2021/22
Budget Allocation to 31st March 2022
The projects developed within this framework and each Fund theme are detailed
in Appendix 1 of this report, detailing which activities have already been
procured and funds committed.
To meet the requirements of the fund, the recruitment of the administrator
to process the claims and refunds has been completed, with the officer
employed from July 2021 to March 2022. Equally, the project delivery and
management role is in place on a part time basis during 2021. Recruitment of
the Information Officer has commenced and should be completed in July.
ANALYSIS & CONSIDERATION OF ANY ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
The proposals set out in the report for the allocation of Welcome Back
Fund have been drawn up by officers in consultation with business representatives
to ensure that they are consistent with the aims of the grant. They are also consistent
with the council’s Recovery & Renewal Programme and officers have worked
with external partners to identify either the most pressing unmet needs or
where funds can have, potentially, the greatest beneficial impacts.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT & CONSULTATION
Business consultation has been undertaken, in line with government funding
requirements and Brighton and Hove’s wealth of existing engagement with
stakeholders via the:
Brilliant Brighton BID
Brighton & Hove Tourism Alliance
Cultural Recovery Plan: Working Groups and Governance Group:
Destination Experience Group delivering the Tourism Recovery Plan
Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce
Officers have met with each group and discussed their priorities and
preferences. With both the Cultural Recovery and Destination Experience
groups, officers have developed the majority of the projects detailed in this
report. All stakeholders are supportive of the plans and officers will
continue to liaise throughout the lifetime of the programme.
The Welcome Back Funds can be used to support a wide range of activities
as set out in paragraph 3.9 above and in Appendix 1
attached to this report. Government have provided approval for the projects
listed above as the council’s action plan for the funds.
The report recommends that allocation of the recently announced 2021/22
funding is spent as set out, with the delegated authority to the Executive
Director of Economy, Environment and Culture to allocate the funding in
accordance with the government’s eligibility criteria and in consultation with
the relevant business representatives.
FINANCIAL & OTHER IMPLICATIONS:
In March 2021 the council
received notification of a Welcome Back Fund (WBF) allocation of £0.324m from
government for the 2021/22 financial year. This is in addition to the
previously allocated Reopening the High Street Safely Fund sum of £0.259m of
which £0.022m has been claimed from government. The remaining balance will roll
forward into the Welcome Back Fund, bringing the total allocation to £0.583m,
with a balance remaining of £0.561m.
7.2 The proposed allocations set out in this report aim
to fully spend all available grant by 31/03/22.
Finance Officer Consulted: James Hengeveld Date:
7.3 There are no subsidy control issues in relation to
this funding which cannot be used to directly support businesses. The Council
will be required to comply with its Contract Standing Orders when spending this
Consulted: Alice Rowland Date:
7.4 The activities within the Welcome Back programme cater for people
from all sectors of the community as there is a diverse range of events planned.
Issues such as physical access are detailed in event plans where applicable. Where
relevant, event organisers will be required to complete an Equalities Impact
Assessment, new for 2021. Events will consider their audience and the
additional adaptations required to ensure an inclusive environment e.g. posters
and documentation converted into other languages.
7.5 Whilst some of the spend within this fund is on digital
activities, the nature of attracting people into local high streets means that
they often involve a range of potential sustainability impacts (both positive
and negative) from travel, energy and water use, food, local economic and
social impacts, use of outdoor spaces and production of waste. Through the
requirement of organisers to complete the newly introduced Environmental
Impact Assessment and Action Plan, event organisers will be required to think
more carefully about these impacts. They will be monitored and held to account
if they wish to promote or organise events in the future.
are no Brexit implications.
7.7 The diverse range of community and visitor events has the
potential to contribute positively to the health and well-being of participants
and audiences. This includes the direct benefits of taking part in physical
activity events such as those for running, walking, cycling or socialising. Furthermore,
events can contribute to a sense of community, local pride and cultural
identity which can have a positive impact on the well-being of those involved.
However, where relevant all events will meet COVID safe requirements in
accordance with national guidance at the time.
Corporate / Citywide Implications:
Welcome Back Fund will be used to support local high streets across the city as
well as to encourage visitors, particularly in the later part of the 2021/22 year
when trade is needed to sustain businesses over the Winter and Spring months.
The fund has to be spent by 31st March 2021 and the plan outlined in
this paper will make best use of these restricted funds.
Welcome Back Fund – Projects Outline
1. Guidance Welcome
Back Fund - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
2. FAQs Welcome_Back_Fund_FAQs_v2.pdf