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 combine results from footfall, dwell-time, catchment and visit frequency to ask – who were the winners all round?

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.

Overall Winners

Huq has compiled an overall UK council leaderboard by combining the results from footfall, catchment, dwell-time and visit frequency modules during the WBF implementation period. The results are shown using a score from 1-100. The leading council overall is Tendring District Council, with especially strong results in footfall (up 76%, coming first in the list) and dwell-time (up 11%, coming 3rd in the list). Congratulations to Tendring!

And in an interesting twist we have Solihull and Somerset & West Taunton as joint runners up. Solihull demonstrates an impressive increase in footfall – up 35%, coming in 5th – and in visit frequency, up 20% and winning in that list. Somerset & West Taunton wins its place in the top three thanks to a consistently strong performance across all modules with footfall up 20%, dwell up 8% and frequency up 16%.

WBF overall winners

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

It’s great to see so many positive results across these councils and further afield, and to consider the positives that these indicators suggest for local communities. Understanding place performance through a range of relevant metrics offers a powerful means for councils to seek, plan and deploy funding for success. It also provides a means to assess the impact of central government funding interventions like the Welcome Back Fund, Levelling Up Fund and many more.


Huq helps 50+ UK councils understand how people use their towns, high-streets 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!