High Streets fund part of ‘levelling up’ regions, says minister

Additional signage, street markings and temporary barriers needed for reopening will be funded partly by a £6.5m pot announced by High Streets minister Simon Clarke.

Boris Johnson has declared that most shops will reopen from 15 June. This includes clothing, furniture and electrical stores.

The Reopening High Streets Safely Fundwill help councils in England introduce a range of safety measures in a move to kickstart local economies, get people back to work and customers back to the shops.

Clarke said: “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.”

The levelling up agenda, which supports investing outside London to rebalance the national economy, appeared to go quiet during lockdown but has made a reappearance in the past fortnight suggesting support could still be available for Northern Powerhouse-type projects. At the weekend, transport secretary Grant Shapps also referred to levelling up in his funding announcement for light rail as well as cycling and walking infrastructure.

The High Streets money will also be available to use for local marketing campaigns to explain the changes to the public and reassure them that their shops and other commercial areas are safe.

This new fund builds on longer-term monies already in place to support their revival and boost their economic fortunes including the Future High Streets and Towns Funds.

The funding comes from the European Regional Development Fund. There is £50m available in England. Money will be allocated to councils on a per capita basis and will be ready to spend from 1 June.

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