By Daniel Hunter

According to reports from the BBC a £10 million government fund set up a year ago to help bring empty shops back into use has barely been touched.

The High Street Innovation Fund was part of the government's response to Mary Portas' review of the High Street.

But Freedom of Information requests seen by the BBC suggest that only 7% of the money in the fund has actually been spent.

The money was awarded to 100 councils with the worst affected High Streets in England.

The Freedom of Information requests were submitted by the independent retailer, Paul Turner-Mitchell, who also contributed to Ms Portas' High Street review.

Of the 72 councils that responded, 47 said they hadn't spent a penny. So far, just £519,363.22 out of £7.2m has been spent - that's about 7%.

Mr Turner-Mitchell said it was maddening that money continued to sit in council bank accounts when there was a crisis on the High Street. "Looking at these figures you can only conclude that councils are either complacent about the problems on the High Street or they simply don't know what to do about it.

"Either way, ministers need to look at ways of getting High Street funding out to the coalface much quicker," he said.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "We are absolutely committed to reviving the nation's High Streets which is why we gave the 100 councils with the highest numbers of empty properties a share of £10 million to attract new businesses into their areas.

"We've also given local authorities powers to offer business rate discounts and have simplified planning restrictions to allow new businesses to set up on High Streets.

"We would rather councils spend this money strategically and wisely, to ensure long term success for our High Streets, than rush to spend it and waste taxpayers' money in the process."