Jane Stevenson, MP for Wolverhampton North East, has welcomed new Government funding that will help local shops across Wolverhampton safely and successfully reopen after lockdown.
A total of £56 million will be invested through the Government’s Welcome Back Fund to help councils across England boost tourism, improve green spaces and provide more outdoor seating areas, markets and food stall pop-ups – giving people more and safer options to reunite with friends and relatives this Summer.
Wolverhampton Council will receive £234,488 from the Fund. Jane said she was delighted to see Wolverhampton getting this funding and she looks forward to seeing how it will be spent to help attract people back to local shops post-lockdown.
Jane said: “I know how difficult it has been for local businesses in Wolverhampton over the past year, and I am determined to secure them all the help they need to recover.
“So I am delighted to see that the city will receive more than £234,000 as part of the Government’s new Welcome Back Fund, which will help our local shops to reopen safely and successfully in a few weeks’ time as restrictions lift.
“This will ensure that our local high streets have the support they need as we move into recovery, and build back better from the pandemic.”
Councils can use the funding to hold street markets and festivals, boost the look and feel of their high streets, with more seating areas and street planting, and install new signage to help keep people safe as restrictions are lifted.
The Welcome Back Fund is part of a package announced by the Government to attract people back to high streets safely this Summer, including:
- Making it easier for hospitality businesses to operate as takeaways and host markets and stalls.
- Enabling businesses like pubs and restaurants to use their land more flexibly, for example by setting up a marquee or creating new outside space, for the whole summer, so they can serve more customers and recover from the effects of the pandemic.
- Extending pavement licenses for another 12 months, so venues can continue serving customers ‘al fresco’ for longer without red tape.
- Tackling Cowboy private parking firms whose rogue practices can keep visitors away from town.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: “As we move to the next stage on the roadmap out of lockdown we are all looking forward to being reunited with friends and family outdoors and making a safe and happy return to our favourite shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.
“Our Welcome Back Fund gives every city, town and high street support to prepare for a great summer. This funding will help councils and businesses to welcome shoppers, diners and tourists back safely.
“As soon as the roadmap allows, we need to get behind our local businesses and enjoy all that this country has to offer and that we’ve been missing so much.
“I’m allowing every pub in the country to erect a marquee in their garden for the whole summer as a one-off power to support our locals.”
Wolverhampton is also one of seventy councils across England that will benefit from additional hands on support through the new High Streets Taskforce, a group of elite high streets experts who will visit the area to provide advice on how to make changes to ensure shopping areas across Wolverhampton adapt to changing consumer demands and thrive in the years ahead.
The Government has provided billions of investment through the £3.6 billion Towns Fund and £1 billion Future High Streets Fund to regenerate town centres and spruce up high streets, and recently announced a new £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund which will give every council in the UK access to up to £20 million to make their area a more attractive place to visit.
It has also supported high street businesses throughout the pandemic with targeted tax cuts, business rates relief and grants as part of an economic package worth £407 billion this year and next; enabled eateries and pubs to keep serving customers as takeaways during lockdown, and is making it easier for disused buildings in town centres to be repurposed to end the scourge of ugly buildings that drive away footfall.