The first 14 high streets to receive £1bn funding revealed

UK high street government funding
The High Streets Task Force is to give 14 town centres up to £25 million worth of training, face-to-face support and access to research
// The 14 high streets to receive up to £25m worth of training, face-to-face support & access to research have been revealed
// The funding will be piloted first in 20 town centres
// The government has also pledged to cut small retailers’ business rates bills by 50% from April

Ministers have revealed the first 14 high streets to receive £1 billion government funding to help improve the UK’s retail sector.

The High Streets Task Force is to give 14 town centres up to £25 million worth of training, face-to-face support and access to research to give small business owners an edge.

The scheme was announced by the government in response to recommendations of an expert panel on the high street chaired by Sir John Timpson.


The funding will be piloted first in 20 town centres before being rolled out in 101 areas across the country.

The first 14 towns to take part in the pilot schemes and receive funding from the government will be:

Swinton Town centre – Salford

Thornton Heath – Croydon

Cheadle – Staffordshire Moorlands

Aldershot Town Centre – Rushmoor

Stirchley – Birmingham

Accrington Town Centre – Hyndburn

Kendal – South Lakeland

Friargate – Preston

Coventry City Centre – Coventry

Hartlepool Town Centre – Hartlepool

Ellesmere Port Town Centre – Cheshire West and Chester

West Bromwich Town Centre – Sandwell

Huyton Town Centre – Knowsley

Withington District Centre – Manchester

“The Task Force will provide the tools they need to get the best advice possible and a dashboard of key local data,” Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said.

Labour MP Lisa Nandy said: “A decade of Tory cuts has blighted our high streets with empty shops and payday lenders.

“They have no plan to give us back the well-paid jobs we need to revive our high streets.

“After ten years of failure, nobody will believe more of their empty promises.”

She added: “It’s up to our high street heroes to shop locally and save our town centres.”

Ministers will also launch a consultation on whether to build an online register of commercial properties, which could make it easier to bring empty shops back into use.

The government has also pledged to cut small retailers’ business rates bills by 50 per cent from April.

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  1. Also… all Labour MP’s ever seem to do is complain and whine about the Conservatives. I’d like to see them actually do something instead of slagging people off.

  2. Sticking plaster really. Retail to survive and let’s face it more store closures will come this year 2020 and next with H of F continuing to shrink or be given notice on stores, the same with HMV, Game, and Debenhams due to complete it’s remaining store closures out of the 50 due to shut, along with M and S I can see lots of empty properties unless business rates is substantially reformed to a tax on turnover of store and an online sales tax of 10 -15 per cent is introduced to make high street shopping more attractive.

    Many of these shops are better off being converted in to homes, small business or small trader cooperatives.

    2020 will be another bad year in retail.

  3. To be successful, surely a shop has to sell something that people want to buy and at the right price. Government handout or not, if shops don’t sell what the people want then they ain’t going to survive

  4. Is that mp for real blaming cuts. If shops were government funded than maybe she would have a point. If money is being spent on high streets than there needs to be an attraction to bring people in look at Southend for example. You have shops close to the beach so as many consumers do they decide to look around and most of the time buy something. Whether food coffee or clothing they are spending. The other option is for the councils to buy the units from landlords and charge lower rates and get rid of the apprenticeship levy as this forces companies to spend even if they don’t want to. That and the living wage staying on the rise means businesses pay out more than they did previously

    • Nine straight years of cuts to central government funding of local government has kept high street business rates high and with no cash available for investment in high streets to make them attractive to shoppers. Cuts to social services have also left consumers with less disposable income, so whilst there are other significant factors at play such as the rise in online retail you cannot ignore the impact of central government policy on the country’s high streets

  5. This government task force will be a complete waste of taxpayers money and be no real help to perishing retailers.
    Boris Johnson needs to listen to people like Mike Ashley if he wants to be the saviour of the high street and slash all rates by half.
    The House of Fraser stores and the jobs which were saved will be short lived unless this is implemented without delay .
    The minimum wage increase in April will be another nail in coffin for the high street as it couldn’t of come at a worse time .
    A comprehensive rates reduction would cost the treasury 30 billion pounds a year but would regenerate the high street and save jobs and also increase them .
    This will enable landlords to let empty units in the high street and shopping centres on a longer term to quality retailers to inspire shoppers , rather than short term pop up shops selling everything for five quid which quite frankly does nothing to help the town centre.
    This is a nation of shopkeepers and long may it last !
    So act now Boris as time is running out !!

  6. The Model for retail to survive is really simple .
    1. Cap rents in town centres, landlords are greedy they tie up tenants with full repairing long and difficult to get out of leases. Cap rents will attract more independent retailers.
    2. Significantly reduce Business rates in town centres. Many small business are paying well in excess of £1000 a month Business rates for what? They even have to pay extra for rubbish removal. Uk high street rates are such bad value. These business are providing a service. Offer business with a turnover less than £500k FREE rates.
    3. Abolish town centre parking fees or limit charges to just one pound. Free parking at out of town retailers is killIng town centre.
    4. Offer Much cheaper public transport into town centres
    5. Offer retailers grants to improve their shop fronts. People want to visit Places that look nice.
    6. Weekly street markets with very low cost pitches for retailers to attract more people to the town.

  7. I am not going to comment on the merits or potential failures of this task force.
    However what I would like to point out is not a single hint of anywhere in the South West of England being on the pilot list.
    The store I was managing has now been closed down, so I have a lot to say but too emotional to express my opinions/ideas for the future.

  8. Labour MP Lisa Nandy’s comments can be disassociated with anything POSITIVE.
    At least this new Conservative Government is trying to act as sensibly as possible.

  9. the biggest key to improving retail in these towns is FOOTFALL. If there are no people passing through or along these streets, not much will change. Commercial and residential located near the high streets would help combat these issues.

  10. I have been in fashion retail since 1971. UK retail has successfully morphed over my career. Changes in consumer behaviour with technology, jumps in PC’s/computers, communications, travel and globalization. So why not successfully transition over the recent decade?
    I contend that consumers still want to go out shopping. But I suggest the UK population of 40 billion in 60’s/70’s included a very different market for ‘gear’, twin sets and formal suits. Now our population is multicultural, multi ethnic and personally exposed to global distribution. This market equals consumer behaviour of a very different kind.
    If a town task force can be led by a savvy, commercial retail person to better reflect the needs of that community, then the funding might just be worthwhile.

  11. Very interesting feedback above and I have never seen so many comments on a piece.

    We have just closed a site within a prime location in Stratford-upon-Avon, and have a remaining site in another neighbouring town. I am therefore well qualified to comment.

    There are another of points I would like to question:

    Rates – yes they are too high and should be reviewed, but they should not make or break a business.

    Rents – again, yes they are too high for current business levels, but most of the prime locations are owned by major funds or in my case a local charity who have no interest in retaining tenants even when given the chance. All they want is maximum income and no responsibility for the buildings. Only government legislation can change this with two year mandatory breaks in the lease and building condition being the Landlord’s responsibility. After three months empty units should be charged double the rates, including listed property which is are currently exempt from paying any rates.

    Parking – if there was one thing that needs changing it is parking charges, with every resident within the country being assigned free parking for up to four hours for their local town.

    Town markets – Stratford-upon-Avon council has made the decision to use multiple markets and events as a way of gaining significant additional income from car parking charges and fines. Yes it does drive more traffic in, but all it does is damage trade for the vast majority of the established retailers in the town. Of course the coffee shops, MacDonalds and Pound Land benefit, but few others. Is this all we really want is each and every town up and down the land?

    Over the past ten years we have seen in both of our businesses consumers tightening their belt considerably. A lack of central spending has clearly had a major impact and without exceptionally low interest rates and high personal debt levels the UK would be officially in deep recession.

  12. All business should pay a tax whether it’s on line or working business from home similar to shops ideally based on turnover . Ban charity shops from high street positions to make way for legitimate quality retailers . Ban rates completely to be replaced by a tax on turnover . The party is over overtaxation has killed the golden goose. Restore proper chamber of trades in towns to stop this free for all and oversupply of what we don’t need. Just like the shopping centres do.

    • Obviously the last 2 comments are from shoppers not shop keepers.
      Retail cannot compete as our property costs are 3 to 15 times higher than domestic or even office space.
      I didn’t mind paying £25,000 a year in business rates (equivalent council tax would be around £1500 a year) when we were making good profits.
      Finally the truth is out and no one, not even corporate giants can afford the high street. It’s massively over priced.
      So yes the market place has changed but the corporate landlords and government have not allowed the high street to adapt. They want higher rents and higher business rates…they are ultimately responsible.
      As for this government high street task force…… As much as I like her…. Whatever happened to Mary Portas?

  13. Labour MP needs to get real – Cuts didn’t ruin the high street – internet shopping did, can we blame the government for that? Aldershot listed above is a dirty place with well funded foreign food shops and not a lot else.


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