Following the UK Government’s Spending Review, Chancellor Sajid Javid has announced £600 million in Barnett Consequential funding for Wales. FSB Wales however has argued that this should be used to fund a Future of Welsh Towns fund, as previously called for by the business organisation.
Following the 2018 UK Government budget, the former Chancellor announced two elements to support high streets – a business rate relief element and the ‘Future of High Streets Fund’.
At the time, FSB Wales estimated the Barnett consequential elements of these for Wales to be approximately £22.5million per year over two years for the business rates relief element and £33.75million over 5 years for the high streets fund element.
Given the significant challenges facing Welsh towns, FSB has previously asked, and continues to urge Welsh Government to make its own commitment to arresting the decline of our high streets and more widely, to develop an approach which sees the revitalisation and future-proofing of towns across all Welsh regions.
This is a significant debate for Wales and one which we feel requires new and innovative thinking which addresses immediate need as well as anticipating the challenges of the future which might mitigate against towns being thriving hubs for businesses, the wider economy and our communities.
Over the last year, FSB Wales has undertaken a significant amount of work in towns across the country, under its Future of Welsh Towns campaign, seeking to stimulate conversation and new thinking on how to ensure that our towns continue to be a dynamic force in future.
Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said:
“In the context of the £600 million in funding announced for Welsh Government yesterday, Welsh Government should be able to at the very least commit to a Future of Welsh High Streets fund as outlined by FSB Wales following the UK Government budget last year.
“We need a new approach for our high streets. High streets are struggling under the weight of a number of issues, and we have now reached a critical time for these businesses.
“At a time of great uncertainty, a Future of Welsh High Streets fund will help boost business confidence, provide a setting for new conversations about the future of our towns, and empower local communities to reinvigorate their towns and high streets.”