Future High Streets Fund

With the festivities drawing to a close and many returning to work and we’ve all consumed our own body weight in chocolate, we’ll be returning to normal service.

January is traditionally a slump in sales for retailers, so it is crucial perhaps that we should focus some attention on what and how we tackle the problems that face our retailers here in the District.

In October 2018, the Government announced the ‘Future High Street Funds.’ Essentially a £675m pot of money that local councils can bid for to help their High Streets.

The Future High Streets Fund will support and fund local areas’ plans to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future.

A new £675 million Future High Streets Fund will be set up to help local areas to respond to and adapt to changes.
It will support local areas to prepare long-term strategies for their high streets and town centres, including funding a new High Streets Taskforce to provide expertise and hands-on support to local areas and it will also then co-fund with local areas projects.

Struggling retailers in our District will be relying on our Council to access these funds to help them fight online giants, high rents & business rates.

We’ve spoken to many retailers in Rayleigh and there is a common cry for help with many citing that the current parking charges create a roadblock to local people shopping local. The Federation of Small Businesses supports this and has produced the document attached.

Local authorities should provide more free parking, including for limited time periods, in town centres. Parking charges, where necessary, should be limited and any increase in charges subject to proper consultation and assessed for their impact on high streets.

Federation of Small Businesses

Here’s a short interview with business owners and the FSB which highlights some of the issues that business owners are facing.

We all know the problems. Shops lie empty, increasingly expensive parking in towns drives shoppers to choose retail parks, business rate bills weigh disproportionately heavily on high street retailers while online-only operators have far lower costs – and pay far less in tax. Then there’s time-honoured necessities such as high street banks and convenient ATMs closing down and competition from online shopping.

Michael Weedon, Chair of the Retail & High Street Policy Unit