High Street’s £675m fund hopes to create “community hubs”

High Street’s £675m fund hopes to create “community hubs”

high street

The government is inviting local councils to bid for a share in a government fund, aimed to help the struggling high street.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the £675 million fund during his October budget and bidding opened on Boxing Day.

The retailer Sir John Timpson, who owns the shoe repair chain, called on the government for more money to be invested into the high street to transform them into “community hubs” and shift the focus from just shopping.

“We all know high streets are changing, we can’t hide from this reality. But we’re determined to ensure they continue to sit at the heart of our communities for generations to come,” he said.

“To do this we have to support investment in infrastructure, boosting local economies and ensuring people are able to get the most out of their local high streets.”

This year has seen troubling conditions for the UK high street, where retailers including Poundworld, Maplin and Toys R Us have collapsed into administration. 

Many retailers, including Marks & Spencer (LON: MKS) and Carpetright (LON: CPR), have suffered and have closed stores using CVAs and issued profit warnings. 

High streets minister Jake Berry said: “We all know high streets are changing, we can’t hide from this reality. But we’re determined to ensure they continue to sit at the heart of our communities for generations to come.”

“To do this we have to support investment in infrastructure, boosting local economies and ensuring people are able to get the most out of their local high streets. Empowering leaders on the ground is key too – they best understand the challenges facing their areas.”

“Our future high streets fund will drive forward this change, transforming our town centres into the thriving community hubs of the future,” he added.

One of the biggest challenges to high street shopping is online shopping, which in August 2018 accounted for almost a fifth of retail sales.