Debate on high streets and town centres in 2030, House of Commons, 13 June 2019

We welcome the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s recommendation that the business rates system needs to be modernised to ensure online business make a fair contribution.


Key messages

  • Shopping and retail continue to underpin the value and purpose of town centres. This is despite unprecedented changes taking place, such as the increase in online shopping which has led to the demise of many high street brands.
  • Councils have a responsibility for the economic and social wellbeing of the places and communities they serve. They are already helping town centres to manage economic change and where necessary to rebalance their purpose. This has included offering support to local businesses and investing in the town centre assets, including the public realm.
  • The Future High Streets fund is a step in the right direction. It will help local areas to prepare long-term strategies for their high streets and town centres.
  • We welcome the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s recommendation that the business rates system needs to be modernised to ensure online business make a fair contribution. Business rates should also be localised so councils can do more to support small businesses, boost high streets, as well as set rates and discounts to reflect the local economy.
  • Councils need more powers and flexibility in relation to planning and licensing to help shape and deliver vibrant town centres, including the reform of compulsory purchase powers.
  • With local government facing an £8 billion funding gap by 2025, the ability of councils to support their town centres is constrained as they prioritise their resources on vital statutory services. We are calling on the Government to provide long-term, sustainable funding for local authorities in the Spending Review.

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Debate on high streets and town centres in 2030, House of Commons, 13 June 2019