The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has reported that many small high street businesses are calling upon their local authorities to directly support and give them their right to help develop high streets. Whilst central government action and support is important, so is implementing movements locally.
Currently, the national average of small businesses who had something positive to say about their high streets is 41 per cent. In London, it is 51 per cent.
Michael Lassman, the FSB London Regional Chair, states ‘high streets are at the heart of our communities. They are the epicentre of villages, towns and cities right across the country, but for many, these are difficult times.’
Several of these businesses are facing ongoing financial struggles. The report suggests that one in six small businesses are still relying on regular cash deposits from a local bank branch. Therefore, the FSB is hoping to see small businesses being supported through funding from the Future of High Streets and Stronger Towns Funds – as well as local authorities and other public bodies. They state that local authorities and community groups must have accessible funding to bring long term empty units into use.
One action that the FSB recommends to local authorities is introducing the expansion of free or reduced parking to attract customers – particularly at a time when large stores are closing down.
Almost a third of small high street businesses are enthusiastic to be at the frontline (whilst many more wishes to be involved) of supporting their communities. In addition to helping their local economy thrive and create a more ‘business-friendly ecosystem’ around the high streets. Some ideas for improvement are as follows:
- Fixing potholes
- Freeing up planning red tape (so that small businesses can innovate and develop mixed goods and services business models)
- Increased provision of free car parking
So what other struggles do small businesses encounter?
The research from the FSB suggests that without business rates relief, 38 per cent of small businesses would not survive on the high street. They are calling upon the Government to ‘further extend the scope and duration of the Retailers Relief and to remove the rateable value ceiling of £2,899 on second business premises in England.’
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