The Institute of Place Management has joined a collective of organisations representing the high street in writing to the Prime Minister to request further support for businesses that face ‘spiralling operating costs’.
The letter calls for help to secure the ‘early promising shoots of growth’ following the covid pandemic with a package of measures including business rates relief and a reduction in headline VAT rates for retail, leisure and hospitality.
In raising awareness of the perilous position of many high street businesses, IPM is joined by 12 organisations from across many sectors including ATCM, UKHospitality, British Property Federation, Night Time Industries Association, Civic Voice, and the BID Foundation.
Following the welcome announcement of support for industry’s energy bills via a 6 month price cap, IPM and others urge the new administration not to ignore other economic pressures that ‘threaten a bright future for town centres everywhere’.
The letter states:
We write to you as a collective of organisations representing a diverse group of high street interests across the private, public and voluntary sectors. Through our respective networks, we can see first-hand the corrosive effect a toxic mix of challenges is having on investment and jobs in our town centres. This is not just about energy but also other spiralling operating costs compounded by weak consumer confidence. The early promising shoots of growth as high street activity returned after the disruption of COVID lockdowns were hard won. It would be tragic for that growth to come to an abrupt halt with the closure of many businesses.
Referring to the BusinessSOS campaign supported by over 150 Business Improvement Districts, examples of local high street businesses are cited to show the scale of the challenge many face. The Stanley Arms and Market Tavern in Preston are two examples of successful pubs which, facing rising electricity prices and supply costs, are at threat of closure and job losses.
The economic pressures cut across sectors and the letter cites a shoe retailer and repairer in Southampton, established for 220 years that also face job losses due to low consumer confidence and soaring costs.
IPM Chair, Professor Cathy Parker said:
The Institute represents all those who, as accredited professionals, take decisions in the best interests of places. There is unanimity amongst placemakers and industries on the high street about the need to support the businesses that have worked so hard to help towns and cities get back on their feet since the height of COVID lockdowns.
Facing inflationary pressures and changes to consumer behaviour in the short-term, it’s vital that we do what we can to ensure high streets aren’t stripped of the kinds of shops, hospitality, entertainment and services, which people need.