The government has increased the £675 million pot of cash available to struggling high streets to £1 billion, in a bid to use the extra money on 100 more towns including Blackpool, Scarborough and Clacton.
Last year, Philip Hammond, who was chancellor, revealed a £675 million fund as part of a wider package of measures to reverse the high street doom and gloom, which is suffering from high vacancies and decreased footfall.
On Monday, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said an additional £325 million would increase the size of the fund’s size to £1 billion. Meanwhile, a total of 50 towns have already been shortlisted to receive cash from the fund after handing in their proposals, which plans for new bus services and transforming empty retail units into homes.
The shortlist has since doubled, with another 50 towns added, including Dover, Grimsby and Carlisle. All the towns are eligible to receive up to £150,000 to develop more detailed proposals.
The document that sets out how the fund will be put into action said there is “no guarantee” that the shortlisted towns will receive the money needed at the end of the process. The maximum award under the scheme is £25 million, but most projects are expected to be around £5 million to £10 million.
“Our high streets are right at the heart of our communities and I will do everything I can to make sure they remain vibrant places where people want to go, meet and spend their money. This scheme is going to re-energise and transform even more of our high streets – helping them to attract new businesses, boost local growth and create new infrastructure and jobs.” – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
This month, a total of 50 UK retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, and Boots, wrote to chancellor, Sajid Javid, to call for action on the property tax, which, they said held back investment, threatened jobs as well as the high street. Nevertheless, online retailers expect to face lower tax because they occupy less physical space.