£56m fund to help England's high streets and seaside towns reopen after lockdown

20 March 2021, 08:32

People walk past a parade of shops in Whitstable
People walk past a parade of shops in Whitstable. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

High streets and seaside towns in England are to receive a boost to get them ready for when lockdown restrictions are eased.

The Welcome Back Fund, worth around £56m, will help authorities prepare for the end of lockdown restrictions.

Pubs and restaurants will be given more flexibility to erect marquees and provide outdoor seating as part of the plans.

The funds can be used to remove graffiti and buy outdoor furniture for pubs and restaurants. But tourism officials say struggling towns will need more money.

Alex Schlagman from the Save the High Street campaign said: "£56m is not going to go a long way across the whole of the country.

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"What we need to see here is that this is part of a wider remit of support that goes towards high streets through this summer."

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said he hopes the plans will lead to "a great British summer."

"If the vaccine rollout proceeds at the pace we've seen in recent months, then I am increasingly optimistic that this summer is going to be a good one," he said.

£6m of the £56m will be allocated to improving seaside towns with the remaining £50m sent to councils to improve public spaces and encourage events during the summer.

Pubs across the country were forced to close on March 16 2020. From April 12, they will be allowed to open for outdoors drinking and dining only as part of the government's roadmap out of lockdown.

In a separate development, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced a £6 million fund to support the re-opening of London’s economy once COVID restrictions are lifted.

Mr Khan, said: “Central London is the engine of the UK’s economy. There simply won’t be a national economic recovery from COVID unless all levels of Government realise the crucial importance of protecting central London’s unique eco-system of shops, hospitality and world-leading cultural venues."