The government has announced it will be supporting high streets across England with the release of its £831 million recovery fund. Aimed at helping crisis-hit town and city centres, it is hoped the cash injection will go something towards their future prosperity.
Originally announced by Boris Johnson in August 2019, the Future High Streets Fund will support shopping areas in multiple locations in England. Local authorities were invited to apply for a portion of the fund to help transform high streets into vibrant places to work, shop and live.
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Funding has become even more important considering the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic. The fund will help to protect and create jobs, as businesses start to recover from the difficult trading conditions of 2020.
An additional £107 million will be specifically awarded to fund the regeneration of heritage high streets. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is organising these payments separately.
Which businesses are eligible?
Currently, 15 towns and cities, out of more than 100 applicants, have been informed they will receive the full amount of funding required. The two biggest pay outs of £25 million each will go to Swindon and Sunderland. A further 57 high streets are to receive funding offers, based on the regions the government considers the neediest. The exact amounts are yet to be confirmed.
As well as helping with the physical refurbishment of high streets, the cash injection will support local communities by keeping people in work and creating new jobs.
The government says the role of the high street has continually evolved and it wants to support these changes and make sure it remains the “beating heart of the local community” in future.
How will it benefit the community?
The aim is to refurbish not only shops and restaurants but also to have high-quality housing and leisure facilities in city and town centres.
The idea for a rescue fund for England’s high streets was first brought up in 2018, long before the Covid-19 pandemic, and was confirmed by Boris Johnson in 2019. The announcement that it will be released could not be more welcome for beleaguered high street traders.
The government has called the fund a “key milestone” in helping areas to transform high streets into a “vibrant hub”, not only to recover from the pandemic, but also for future generations to enjoy. It is hoped thousands of jobs can be created, according to a statement from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
What can businesses do with the money?
Businesses can use the money for any purpose relating to their work and facilities – but in particular, to make shop improvements that will make their premises more inviting for customers.
In various parts of the country, some projects already confirmed include creating more parking facilities, improving bus access to the high street, smartening up outdoor spaces in general and even revamping Sunderland’s old 1960s train station. For many individual businesses, it will be a case of refurbishing their shopfronts, as the economic climate has meant very little has been spent on retail premises and restaurants.
The shopfront is arguably the most important part of the premises, as it is what turns passers-by into customers. As the vital first impression to potential customers and visitors to a city or town, if it looks old or tatty, it will discourage people from coming in and looking around – so, you could be selling the most amazing items, but nobody will bother to come in and see them.
Currently, non-essential retailers are closed, due to the lockdown. For businesses lucky enough to be receiving a share in the government funding, this could be a good time to plan a refurbishment – traders must try to look ahead!
For a no-obligation chat, contact Commercial Aluminium Shopfronts. Our knowledgeable team will help you prepare for the better days to come.