The Welcome Back Fund (WBF) provided UK council funding to help encourage visitors back to high streets and town centres in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this report rank councils by increases in visit frequency and ask – how successful was it?

The Welcome Back Fund (WBF)

The Welcome Back Fund (WBF) was announced in March 2021 as an extension to the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund (RHSSF). These funds enabled councils to invest in post-Covid recovery and to stimulate economic prosperity, especially through retail and leisure. The implementation period – the period over which councils are required to dispose of WBF funding – ran up until March 31st 2022.

In this report we look back at councils’ performance levels at the time of the Fund’s announcement and compare them to where they ended up in the three months to March 31s. The results are used to rank the best performing councils during the WBF campaign period across four key metrics: footfall, catchment, dwell-time and visit frequency.

Visit frequency performance

Why is Visit Frequency important? Visit Frequency is a monthly measure of how frequently unique visitors return to the place, street or centre you manage. How often visitors return to an area is a key means to measure the attractiveness of places and why people go there. It also offers an important KPI for local spending and economic prosperity.

How Huq does it: Visit Frequency counts the number of different days on which a unique visitor is observed within the measurement area over the course of a month, and is then summarised across all unique visitors using the mean average. The WBF winners based on an increase in frequency of visit over the period:

Visit frequency increase during WBF

bar chart showing percentages of visits from places over time to show impact of welcome back funding

Solihull Council, located just outside Birmingham in the Midlands, leads the list of councils demonstrating the greatest increase – 20% – in visit frequency over the Welcome Back Fund implementation period. That performance is followed by Boston & East Lindsey at 16%, just south of the Humber, and Somerset West and Taunton in the South West also at 16%.

Across the top 10 winners, three are located in the East of England – in the main close to London – two in London and others spread across the UK. Across all councils analysed, Huq found there to be a 9.3% increase in visit frequency during the Welcome Back Fund implementation period, with those in the top 10 tracking collectively at 13.1%.


Huq helps 50+ UK councils understand how people use their towns, high-streets, parks and spaces. Its measurement platform offers insights into key performance indicators including:

  • How busy places are
  • Where visitors come from
  • How long they stay for
  • How often they come back

Using quality, first party observations and big data practices, these detailed and verified insights are available immediately, UK-wide. No hardware and no surveys required!