£6.5m boost to support recovery of North West’s high streets
A new £6.5m fund for councils in the North West to support their local high streets to get safely back to business has been announced today (May 24) by High Streets Minister Simon Clarke.
To prepare for the reopening of non-essential retail when the scientific advice allows, the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund will help councils in England introduce a range of safety measures in a move to kick-start local economies, get people back to work and customers back to the shops.
It will also support a range of practical safety measures including new signs, street markings and temporary barriers.
This will help businesses get ready for when they can begin trading safely, not only in high streets and town and city centres, but also in other public spaces like beachfronts and promenades.
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.
It is the Government’s ambition to reopen non-essential retail in a phased way from June 1, subject to the scientific advice. The Government will set out further detail on how and when these can reopen safely shortly.
High streets are critical to the economic recovery of towns and cities and this new fund builds on longer-term funds already in place to support their revival and boost their economic fortunes, including the Future High Streets and Towns Funds.
Simon Clarke said: “As we begin to slowly return to normality, the reopening of 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 this shows that they are ready for the challenges ahead.
“That’s why we are providing an extra £6.5m for councils across the North West 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 comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) that the Government is making available to councils to support businesses to reopen safely following guidance published on May 13, to help adapt urban centres and green spaces for social distancing during the pandemic.
The money, totalling £50m in England, will be allocated to councils on a per capita basis and will be ready to spend from June 1.
The fund is in addition to the £3.2bn package of support announced for councils to help them deal with the immediate pressures they have said they are facing.