An overhaul of business rates, increased free town centre parking and measures to safeguard access to cash and banking services must be put in place to help struggling high street retailers, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said.
The association said rising rates bills, increased rents and employment costs, combined with pressure from online retailers and out-of-town retail parks, are creating a perfect storm for high street retailers.
It urged policy makers to create fairer business rates bills for high streets and make the system for appeals more straightforward. It also recommends that the rate relief rule is abolished, which penalises small business expansion into additional premises.
FSB said more free parking should be created and investment should be prioritised into the maintenance of local road networks, which support local high streets and their customers. The government should also put in place measures to safeguard access to cash and banking services
“It’s clear the pressure is mounting,” said Mike Cherry, national chairman at the FSB. “Spiralling business rates and ever-increasing rents are piling on to small retailers, hospitality businesses and others on the high street. The high cost of town centre parking, poor infrastructure, the blight of potholes and the loss of vital banking services are also ramping up the pressure.
“We know that small business owners are resilient and are used to adapting to market forces. But we want to see government and local authorities come together to look at real solutions to these issues so that our high streets are not only able to survive, but to thrive”
He added: “We’re not suggesting there’s a quick fix for the high street, but it’s clear something needs to be done. We’re calling on the government to take control of the situation and, working with local authorities, take the pressure off struggling high street businesses.”