Government launches High Street task force
Written by Hannah McGrath
The government has launched its new High Streets task force initiative as part of a £675 million strategy to support retailers and revive Britain’s ailing town centres.
High Streets minister Jake Berry announced that the task force - comprised of retail experts - will provide advice and guidance to retailers on how to make their businesses more “experience focussed” as they seek to attract consumers and reflect changing consumer expectations.
The chancellor Philip Hammond announced the task force in October’s Autumn Budget as part of the future High Streets fund, alongside measures on planning and business rates.
The government is also encouraging businesses to submit applications to win up to £15,000 for their local community as part of the Great British High Street awards.
A total of 40 shortlisted finalists, which can demonstrate they are working together to adapt and diversify their High Streets, will be chosen by an independent judging panel.
Berry said: “High streets and the way we use them are changing, and this government is committed to helping communities to adapt – we want to see vibrant town centres where people live, shop, use services and spend their leisure time.
“But in order to evolve successfully, high streets must meet the needs of their local community and the key to this is strong local leadership,” he continued. “This is why we are providing additional support through the task force, drawing on the best expert advice, training and data that’s available.”
The task force has been created in response to the recommendations of the High Streets Expert Panel chaired by entrepreneur John Timpson.
The initiative will be run by the Institute of Place Management (IPM), a consortium of experts with a wide range of knowledge and insight, including in planning and design.
As part of the project, local authorities will also be able to access up-to-date behavioural data that will provide insights into consumer habits.