Scotland business

Scottish councils to share town centre fund

Derelict shops Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The fund was announced as part of the Scottish budget deal

The distribution of a £50m Scottish government fund to improve struggling town centres has been revealed.

The largest beneficiary will be Fife Council, which is receiving £4.3m. Aberdeenshire has been allocated £3.3m, with £3m going to Glasgow and £2.6m to Edinburgh.

The smallest allocation - £660,000 - has been awarded to Inverclyde.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the funding would "stimulate and support" investment.

The fund was announced as part of the 2019-20 Scottish budget deal.

All 32 local authorities will receive a share of the cash, with councils deciding how to allocate the money in their areas.

'Work and enjoy'

Mr Mackay said town centres were facing challenges adapting to a changing retail climate.

He added: "I want to make sure we can keep life in our high streets, and ensure they continue to be thriving places for communities to live, work and enjoy.

"This £50m fund will enable local authorities to stimulate and support a wide range of investments which will encourage town centres to diversify and flourish, and create an increase in footfall through local improvements and partnerships."

Image copyright Getty Images

Local authority body Cosla has welcomed the deal.

Its economy spokesman Steven Heddle said: "Local economic development drives so much of the other vital things that councils do on behalf of our communities.

"This was a message we promoted as part of our essential services campaign ahead of this year's budget. We were clear that inclusive growth must be supported through investment in local government.

'Business rates'

He added: "We will continue to work with the Scottish government on our shared priority of inclusive growth and growing Scotland's economy."

The Scottish Retail Consortium, which represents retailers, said the new fund was a "promising and timely" move to enhance the economic viability of town centres.

The organisation's director, David Lonsdale, added: "The finance secretary is making headway on key aspects of the rates reform agenda, particularly on more regular revaluations, keeping down the headline rate, and scrapping the proposed out of town levy.

"However, this shouldn't be the limit of our ambition, with action still required to restore the level playing field with England on the large business rates supplement and with most councils yet to play their part by using their existing powers to reduce rates in their areas."