The challenges facing our high streets
Our High Streets campaign outlined the problems facing our high streets, explore the campaign and more through our resources below.
Find out more about our campaign and recommendations.
Michael Weedon, an FSB volunteer and Chair of FSB’s Retail and High Street Policy Unit, blogs about our high streets.
Visit our First Voice website to read about current initiatives that seek to ensure our high streets have a future.
Why our high streets are important
Smaller businesses are very often the heartbeat of their communities across the UK contributing time, resources and money to enrich the area they live and work in.
Our report Small Business, Big Heart: Bringing Communities Together examined how smaller businesses contribute to their community and how they can be supported to do even more.
What are FSB doing?
Updates from our policy teams across the UK about our work to help high streets thrive.
We have led the way in pressuring the Government to do all it can to support smaller businesses on the UK’s high streets. A notable win came in the 2018 Autumn Budget with the then Chancellor announcing a business rates retail discount for two years. This win, on average, has helped businesses to the tune of almost £2,000 each and potentially up to around £16,000 off for small businesses facing the biggest bills.
We now need the Government to go further and meet its commitments in the 2019 Conservative Manifesto to cut the burden of tax on business by reducing business rates by:
- Increasing the retail discount to 50% and extend it to include more businesses
- Commiting to a fundamental review of the business rates system
FSB launched the #FSBmyTown campaign in August 2019 along with a new report, Transforming Towns: Delivering a Sustainable Future for Local Places. The report detailed a selection of ideas, including tech help and banking hubs, to give towns and high streets a long-term boost as well as asking for more support from government at all levels. During the development of the project FSB secured a £50m fund to help towns from the Scottish Government. You can read more about and get involved with the campaign here.
In December 2018 FSB Wales launched its new campaign The Future of Welsh Towns which has been running across the country ever since. This campaign has called for new, innovative thinking on how we can provide for a sustainable and diverse future for our towns. It comes at a critical moment for the Welsh economy – 40% of the Welsh population live in towns of 20,000 people or less.
Since the launch of this campaign, there have been significant wins from Welsh Government such as the implementation of further business rates relief, and a £90 million package of measures to support Welsh towns, which was heavily influenced by The Future of Welsh Towns.
FSB Northern Ireland led the campaign for the introduction of Small Business Rate Relief in 2010, a valuable rates discount for small firms, and have successfully fought for its continuation ever since. In 2018, when the Bank Buildings Fire caused significant damage to Belfast’s main shopping thoroughfare, FSB played a key role in securing £2 million in funding from UK Government to help regenerate the City Centre.
With restored devolved government in Northern Ireland, we are now pushing for the Small Business Rate Relief to be made permanent and enhanced, something which will benefit high streets in cities, towns and villages across Northern Ireland. You can read more about what we are campaigning for here.
FSB membership support
How FSB membership can help small businesses on the high street