Supporting our high streets has never been so important

July 01 2020
Supporting our high streets has never been so important

Thornbury & Yate MP Luke Hall writes for the Voice

IT has been an incredibly difficult few months for many people living here in South Gloucestershire.

With the guidelines starting to be relaxed, it is a difficult balancing act of continuing to reduce the spread of coronavirus whilst getting the economy moving to protect jobs and livelihoods.

At this time, we must do everything possible to support our high streets and local businesses and help them wherever we can to thrive.

As someone who worked in Lidl in Yate before being elected, I know that our economy is as innovative and dynamic as anywhere in the country. Small and local businesses are the backbone of South Gloucestershire’s economy.

Supporting jobs, businesses and our High Streets has never been more important than it is now.

To protect jobs, we have produced one of the most comprehensive packages of support anywhere in the world, both for workers and for businesses. We are doing everything possible to ensure people can pay their bills, put food on the table and get customers back on to the shop floor.

In Thornbury and Yate alone, over 10,400 people have been furloughed through the Government’s Job Retention Scheme, and 3,200 claims were made to the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

To further ensure that businesses are protected, we also created a £330 billion package of loans and guarantees.

With non-essential retail employing more than 1.3 million people in the UK, many of these payments have been to support people in retail and hospitality. Retail is hard graft; retail workers are some of the unsung heroes of this pandemic. They deserve our gratitude, support and respect.

Supporting our high streets to thrive has always been central to our mission level up the regions, and this is truer than ever as we start to come out of lockdown.

Many local businesses have already introduced creative ways of trading, such as contactless collection or taking orders by instant messaging. This demonstrates that many businesses are ready for the challenges ahead that a return to trading will bring.

This dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit will be needed more than ever as we move into the next phase of recovery.

We’ve opened a new £50m fund to support our high streets to reopen safely. The Re-opening High Streets Safely Fund will give money directly to councils so they can make the changes needed to safely reopen their high streets, town centres and busy public spaces like beach fronts and promenades.

To every small and local business in South Gloucestershire; we are here to support you. We stand behind you. We are indebted to you.

If there is anything more I can do to help navigate these difficult times, please let me know and I will do everything I can to help.