The Government must incentivise small business entry to the high street in order to spur growth, MPs have warned.
According to the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group (APPSSG), small shop owners are increasingly concerned over business rate increases and changes to planning and regulation policy and the Government ought to offer reassurance on these issues.
Priti Patel, Conservative MP for Witham and Chair of the APPSSG, said: “Small shops are the lifeblood of high streets across the country and the Government has a role to play in mitigating the increasing overhead costs that weigh down their businesses.
“We need to incentivise small business entry to the high street with councils using their discretionary rate relief powers, making positive planning decision for the high street and having a vision for the future, including making tough decisions to consolidate retail space where necessary.”
Implementing strategies to aid high street retailers of all sizes is becoming a growing focus for the Coalition, with Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk yesterday announcing the launch of The Future High Streets Forum to drive forward ideas and policies to boost high street footfall.
In the wake of recent administrations of household names such as HMV and Blockbuster, the forum is to advise the 27 Portas Pilots and 330 ‘Town Team Partners’ announced in July last year on how to incorporate a digital strategy and adapt to changing consumer shopping habits.
Prisk commented: “It is clear that our high streets will need to change to prosper.
“There is already great work being done across the country to revitalise the town centres, but it needs to spread further faster. The Future High Streets Forum will help us do that.
“The forum will bring business, councils, retailers and property experts to work together and back communities to rejuvenate our high streets.”
Chaired by Prisk and Alliance Boots CEO Alex Gourlay, the forum has been welcomed by retail pressure group the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which believes that practical solutions are needed during these “relentlessly tough times.”
BRC Director-General Helen Dickinson said: “The BRC has long campaigned for action to secure a successful evolution of our town centres and to make them safe, attractive and viable.
“We’ve set out clear steps for improving local trading environments and preserving and protecting local businesses.
“We very much support the implementation of meaningful measures at national and local level to support towns and cities across England.”