Priti welcomes new funding for safe return of our High Streets
The Witham MP, Priti Patel, has warmly welcomed new funding announced by the Ministry of Communities, Housing and Local Government to help support the safe return of businesses reopening in high streets and seaside resorts across the East of England as Coronavirus restrictions start to ease in the weeks and months ahead. Local authorities across the East of England are set to benefit from £6.1 million of funding from the £56 million ‘Welcome Back Fund’, announced on Saturday by Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick.
Priti said: “I am very much aware of how hard high street businesses in my Constituency and throughout the East of England have been hit by the Coronavirus lockdowns. They have had the toughest of times and I am very pleased to see that the Government is giving top priority to helping them to come back to life in the coming months.
“The new Welcome Back Fund will help our councils to boost tourism, improve green spaces and provide more outdoor seating areas, markets and food stall pop-ups designed to provide more and safer options for people to reunite with friends and relatives. This will support businesses in reopening safely and the vital jobs that depend on them being open and trading.”
As the nation looks forward to life beginning to return to normal, with people making plans for domestic holidays and days out with friends, the Welcome Back Fund’s comprehensive package of support will help to kickstart local economies and businesses and give people reassurance that they can shop and socialise safely.
The new funding will help councils to prepare for the safe return of shoppers and tourists, including employing extra staff to keep festivals and events Covid secure. In addition to the Welcome Back Fund, the Government has backed businesses with cash grants, business rate reliefs, a lower rate of VAT, access to Government-backed loans and changes to planning and licensing rules that enable pubs, restaurants and listed buildings to have more flexibility to use their land to help more people to meet up and enjoy themselves, including erecting marquees in pub gardens for the whole summer.
The Welcome Back Fund can also be used by councils to:
- Boost the look and feel of their high streets by investing in street planting, parks, green spaces and seating areas to make high streets as beautiful and welcoming as possible
- Run publicity campaigns and prepare to hold events like street markets and festivals to support local businesses
- Install signage and floor markings to encourage social distancing and safety
- Improve high streets and town centres by planting flowers or removing graffiti