The government has announced a £1m prize pot to kickstart a revival of the UK’s struggling high streets.

Towns up and down the UK will put forward a case for why they should receive part of the cash, plus support from a dedicated team. They will also be able to call on High Street tzar Mary Portas – who recommended that town centres be managed and developed through new “town teams” as part of the High Street review she released in December.

Twelve high streets will share out the pot – described by local government minister Grant Shapps as a “golden ticket” for town centres.

“We’re looking for innovative ideas, towns who are prepared to come together, put together their own town-teams, involving retailers and landlords and probably their local council and MP, to put their proposals forward that work in their particular area,” said Shapps.

But the scheme has already attracted criticism that it won’t be enough to bail high streets out of trouble.

The Local Government Association said that the pilot “simply tinkers around the edges”.

“Councils don’t want to see short-term schemes - instead they want to see some firm action and a commitment from all government departments and agencies,” said its spokesman Peter Box.

And BRC director of business, Tom Ironside added that “£1m will not go far. This is no magic bullet and must be accompanied by other steps, as swiftly as possible. We look forward to seeing the more detailed Government response. It is essential there is meaningful action on some of the bigger, national issues which cannot be trialled in local areas.

“The costs of doing business at the heart of towns and cities need to be addressed. The eye-watering 5.6% business rates rise coming into effect in April is an obvious challenge to the survival of valued town centre retailers.”