Sunday, 10 January 2010

Help Needed for Small Businesses

By Sunil Patel

Proactive action is required from local government to encourage a better balance of independent retailers and multinationals on the high street, say the Federation of Small Businesses.

The federation says that small business profits have been badly damaged through the impact of out of town shopping centres, city parking charges and the presence of supermarkets

Maxine Aldred, regional organiser of the federation of small businesses said, “Late night shopping and continental markets have gone some way to addressing the problems but there is still some way to go."

They are also concerns that internet shopping and depth of the recession have caused a significant drop in customer numbers, adding to the financial pain for small companies.

The federation also feels that city centres must attract a better mix of small and large businesses so that independent retailers have a ‘level playing field’ on which to compete.

Ms Aldred argues, the only way currently for independent shops to survive is if they become niche market business.

She added, “If you go to the Lanes in Brighton it is full of thriving independents mixed in with one or two bigger multinationals and it’s very popular.”

This would take place through the implementation of local government policy on the sustainability of communities.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said, “We appreciate this is a difficult time for all retailers but each local authority sets it own planning policy.

He added, “But we are trying to encourage shoppers back to the high street by encouraging late night shopping, better facilities and free parking in evenings.

Recently the government announced £2.6 million would be provided to 50 local authorities to revitalise high streets.

Under the scheme Real Help Now put forward by Communities Secretary John Denham the aim would be to support city areas badly affected by the recession.

Each council would be given a cash injection of £52,000 to spend as they require with the idea of transforming ‘ghost streets’ into vibrant bustling centres.

The government proposals would make it easier for local people to take on the temporary tenancy of empty shops for any legal purpose whilst the premises were vacant.

The buildings could become a showcase for local artists or accommodate other types of cultural works put forward by the council.

The latest beneficiaries of the new cash include Lambeth, Stockton, Wirral and Wakefield

The Government's 'Real Help Now' plan is also giving wider support including free business health checks, discounted rate bills for small businesses, tax payment deferrals, capital loans or help with bank loans for business growth, and a 10 day Government payment promise.

No comments:

Post a Comment