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Supporting high streets to reopen

Additional funding and support offered to local business and town centres

Market Place, Newbury

Businesses in West Berkshire are to be offered a comprehensive re-opening support package to align with the Government's Roadmap out of lockdown.

West Berkshire Council has this week outlined how they will be helping local businesses as they begin to resume trading in the coming months, with a range of new initiatives to enable them to operate safely and successfully.

Highlights of this support include:

  • £138,000  'Welcome Back Fund' for events and initiatives to ensure the successful re-opening of high streets
  • Access to twice weekly rapid Covid testing for small business employees
  • The offer of site visits from Public Protection Partnership colleagues for advice on Covid-secure trading
  • Regular sector-based advice webinars for each phase of the unlocking
  • One year complimentary extension to pavement licenses so that hospitality businesses can make use of al fresco dining areas
  • Distribution of 'Restart' grants to eligible businesses
  • Printable resources including guidance posters for display in premises
  • Implementation of further business rate relief, as announced in the Government's Budget

In addition to this, West Berkshire Council will be matching the Welcome Back Funding, to provide an additional £138,000 to specifically support independent businesses. Individual businesses and organisations will be able to apply for funding, and which will be available across Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Pangbourne and Theale. More information about how independent businesses can access this funding will be available shortly.

Strong support for independent businesses is something which residents told us was important to them when they took part in our survey to develop a net Newbury town centre masterplan.

The council will also be launching its Economic Recovery Strategy at is Executive meeting in June, which will include further investment in local employment and infrastructure, as announced in the council's 2021/22 Budget earlier this month.

This is in addition to almost £40m of grants issued to local businesses over the lockdown period, business rate relief for many businesses in the most affected industries and ongoing advice services through the Public Protection Partnership.

Speaking about the support, Ross Mackinnon, Executive Member of Economic Development, said:

"Without question, the pandemic has been tough for all of us, particularly so for our businesses. This is why we're bringing in a comprehensive programme of targeted support and investment to get the district back on its feet.

"By getting grant funding out to businesses quickly, offering timely updates at engagement events and ensuring that businesses have the advice they need to trade safely, we are supporting them to get back up and running and to make the most of what I hope will be a successful summer trading period. In offering our small businesses, including our hospitality businesses, access to regular employee testing, we are also reassuring both workers and customers about the safe environment offered in West Berkshire so that they can shop and eat out with confidence.

"Alongside this, we're working hard to secure the district's long term success. With the Local Enterprise Partnership and our other partners, we're investing in the district's future in order to build back better. This includes money being set aside for green infrastructure, additional resource into economic development and new initiatives to make better use of our high streets.

"I am confident that West Berkshire has the right mix of skills, businesses and connectivity to retain its position as an economically successful district and we stand ready to support this."