November 15, 2019
The Prime Minister today announced an ambitious package, backed by hundreds of millions of pounds of investment, to support towns and communities across Britain.
Building on the Government’s Towns Fund, the measures are designed to help places which have not always benefited from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas.
The package includes measures to:
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, said:
“For too long, too many towns and villages across Britain have been overlooked and left behind. When the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, many communities felt their voices had been heard for the first time in decades and their lives would improve.
“We will invest in these communities and help people put the heart back into the places they call home. We need to get Brexit done so that we can unleash the potential of all our towns, cities and villages. We will be able to save our high streets, keep pubs and post offices open and re-connect places to the rail network half a century after they were cut off.
“But that can only happen if we end the dither, delay and paralysis in Westminster. We need to get Brexit done so the country can move on. We need a Conservative majority government which will deliver for communities across Britain – not a Corbyn-Sturgeon alliance which would expend all its energy on two more chaotic referendums.”
For businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, this will increase the retail discount from 33 per cent to 50 per cent in 2020/21. This would be an effective £280m tax cut which would help small businesses on the High Street in particular.
Hundreds of small music venues and cinemas which currently pay business rates will now qualify for the retail discount, helping to cut their costs and making it easier for them to do business. This will cost approximately £5m.
Pubs are at the centre of communities across our country and we are determined to back them by cutting their costs. This new £1,000 rates relief will be an £18 million tax cut for pubs next year and will keep their costs down.
We introduced the Localism Act in 2011 to halt the decline in pubs, village shops, sports grounds and other facilities by allowing them to be nominated as ‘assets of community value’. This gave community groups the ability to pause the sale of an asset of community value for six months if it went on the market. The next Conservative Government will go further, making the process simpler for community groups to engage with and increasing the moratorium period to nine months – giving communities more time to prepare a bid and raise funds.
A Conservative majority Government will introduce a £150 million fund which will help groups with the cost of preparing a bid, whether legal, commercial or planning-related, and co-fund some deserving purchases. The fund will be open to all community groups and we expect councils to facilitate bids.
As they are permitted to at the moment (though the sale cannot be formally completed until after the moratorium period.) This would be a form of preferred-bidder status for communities, though they could still be outbid at the end of the period if someone else came up with a higher offer.
This fund will rejoin many of the towns cut off by Beeching cuts to the network, connecting their residents to employment and education and encouraging commuters to move there.
During the 1960s, Dr Richard Beeching recommended thousands of train stations and thousands of miles of track be closed, leaving many communities feeling disconnected and left behind. The network shrank by 30 per cent during Harold Wilson’s Government.
Encouraging walking and cycling is key to improving public health and improving air quality in our towns and cities. We will create a new £350 million cycling infrastructure fund and tough new design standards which must be followed to receive any money.
The funding will support an initial 100 towns by improving, among other things, their transport and digital infrastructure – driving growth and making them more prosperous. We have provided funding to the local authorities in the shortlisted towns to start preparing bids that best reflect the individual needs and circumstances of their area.
The Prime Minister recently expanded the Future High Streets Fund, confirming that another 50 towns in England will be given a share of £1 billion to redevelop their high streets, taking the total receiving support to 100 places.
There are currently over 27,000 premises lying vacant in England’s town centres, by enabling even just a fraction of these vacant premises to be turned into homes, we will help thousands more people have a roof over their heads and help ensure our towns remain vibrant places people want to visit.
Commenting, Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, said:
“Corbyn’s Pension Tax will see ten million savers facing a huge bill forcing them to delay their retirement for almost three and a half years.
“This is just one of the ways a Corbyn government would hammer hardworking people on top of his plans to hike up taxes by £2,400 a year, as well as the cost of his plan for unlimited immigration and the chaos of 2020 being dominated by two more referendums – one on Brexit and another on Scottish independence.
“Only Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party can get Brexit done with a deal, get parliament working again and turbocharge our economy to unleash Britain’s potential.”