The Labour party has announced a four-point plan to save Britain’s high streets. The proposals include enacting a temporary cut in VAT and introducing a retail diversity planning clause to give local people a say on any retail plans for their area.
The party is also suggesting that the government creates a ‘competition test’ in the planning system to help ensure a level playing field between small and large shops, and recommends the implementation of Labour’s empty shops initiative to enable councils to pursue innovative uses for empty shops.
Jack Dromey MP, Labour’s shadow Local Government minister, said: “We need to put the heart back into Britain’s high streets. Labour wants to give communities a real say over the future of their high street and the power to make the changes they want.”
Retail guru Mary Portas is currently carrying out a government-backed review aimed at halting the decline of the high street and will present her findings and recommendations in the autumn.
Responding to Labour’s plan, the British Retail Consortium said that urgent action was needed to cut red tape. The BRC also recommends a moratorium on new regulatory burdens for companies of all sizes, and action to smooth index-linked Government-driven costs such as Business Rates which the BRC says affect retailers disproportionately.
Jane Bevis, BRC director of public affairs said: “We already have excellent tools such as Business Improvement Districts which can deliver the re-investment and invigoration many high streets need. They should be used to forge genuine local partnerships.”