high street shops

High streets are to benefit from £6.1m in new funding to support them during the coronavirus pandemic, the government has announced.

The money is to be paid to local authorities and dispersed to hundreds of Business Improvements Districts, regional business partnerships that fund improvements in their area.

It is for BIDs to spend on projects to help their local high streets through the uncertainty of the pandemic, said high streets minister Simon Clarke.

The partnerships have already helped shops closed during lockdown to start trading online, according to BID Foundation chair Bill Addy.

They have also been providing advice services, boosting security to protect closed business and feeding back to central government on the impact on local economies, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.

“These partnerships are uniquely placed and have a proven track record of success in supporting local businesses, empowering communities, championing our town centres and driving forward the renewal of our high streets,” said Clarke.

“It’s only right that during these unprecedented times we give them all the necessary support they need to continue operating, so that they can carry on their vital work now and crucially when we move into the next phase of the current crisis.”

Addy said: “BIDs have already stepped up to support those affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

“This includes working with local councils, emergency services and businesses to ensure help and information gets to those who need it; supporting shuttered shops to adapt and deliver their services online; and helping to coordinate safe and secure spaces that meet health advice.

“This new government support is a partial safeguard for BIDs, which are paid for by their member businesses, and will enable them in the short term to continue their vital local efforts now and to plan for the future.”

High Streets Task Force executive director Simon Quin said: “BIDs have established networks and capacity in their local areas which provide vital coordination and help, both for businesses getting back on their feet and for communities that will need guidance and reassurance to return to the high street, when it is safe to do so.

“By accessing this support, BIDs can ensure they continue to make a real difference to the recovery of our town and city centres.”