Knutsford could benefit from recession fund deal.
The additional funding will be targeted towards a campaign to encourage shoppers to think and buy locally, a bid to spruce up town centres, invest in tourism through i-guides and web developments, and a help information campaign for benefit claimants and businesses.
Cheshire East Council is tracking closely the impact of the “credit crunch”. Figures from Business Link North West suggest the greatest impact on businesses in the recession is in the Macclesfield district, with its proportion of IT, construction and finance companies. The number of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants across the whole area is rising faster than in most neighbouring authorities.
The action plan has been drawn up by the Council’s Recession Task Force. Portfolio Holder for Prosperity, Councillor Jamie Macrae says: “With these plans, we are leading the way in helping Cheshire East cope with the effects of the economic downturn. We’ve looked at how the Council can provide immediate help, and now we’re investing money into support for people affected by the recession. We are also talking to retailers about what measures they think will help their particular town.
“Subsidising parking is not currently among our priorities as being the best way to spend the additional money. We are reviewing the impact of free parking in other areas but feel at this stage that the evidence is inconclusive.”A recession survival guide has already been published online, and provides a wealth of information for residents and businesses. It also reminds people that Cheshire East’s library network and customer centres offer free internet access to help with accessing information or job-hunting.
The biggest investment is to be £117,000, which will provide for additional staff to increase the level of benefit take-up across the Borough. Council staff will be actively going out into Cheshire East communities to provide the necessary support to ensure maximum take-up of benefits available.
The list of options for town centres to help increase footfall and spending include loyalty card schemes to promote and reward local spend, use of vacant shop premises by community voluntary groups, funding to improve shop fronts and improved high streets to encourage shoppers.