High street local authorities

As retailers across England prepare to reopen stores on the 15th June, the government has introduced a new fund to help councils safely welcome people back to the country’s high streets.

The £50 million ‘Reopening High Streets Safely Fund’ will be used by local authorities in England to introduce a range of practical safety measures to enable businesses to re-open quickly when they are allowed to and welcome customers through their doors.

The new money will be used on new signs, street markings and temporary barriers across high streets and town and city centres, as well as other public spaces including beachfronts and promenades.

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According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, councils will also be able to use this money to develop local marketing campaigns to explain the changes to the public and reassure them that their high streets and other commercial areas are safe.

Simon Clarke MP, High Streets Minister, said: “As we begin to slowly return to normality, the re-opening our high streets will be key to kick-starting our economic recovery.

“Levelling up the regions and supporting our high streets has always been central to the mission of this government.

“Many businesses have already introduced creative ways of trading such as contactless collection or taking orders by instant messaging and shows that they are ready for the challenges ahead.

“That’s why we are providing an extra £50 million for councils to support a range of safety measures that will help get these businesses back on track and ensure that people can enjoy their time visiting their local high street safely again.”

The funding will be allocated to councils on a per capita basis and will be ready to spend from 1 June 2020.

Since the outbreak, the government says it has taken steps to protect England’s high streets, including the job retention scheme, 100 per cent government-backed loans, a business rates holiday, retail grants, deferral of VAT payments, measures to prevent aggressive debt recovery actions, as well as the establishment of the High Street Task Force.

After nine weeks of high street shops being closed and many consumers having embraced online technologies during the hiatus to meet their shopping needs, however, it remains to be seen what effect the continued risk of coronavirus will have on high streets – many of which were struggling pre-coronavirus.

To see advice on reopening shops after lockdown for retailers, check THIIS’ deep dive of the government guidance, outlining the key measures and steps that mobility outlets can take to open as safely as possible after lockdown.

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