Following the huge response to the Great British High Streets competition towns and villages are being urged to make one of their resolutions to enter this year’s awards, which will be going ahead for a second year High Streets Minister Penny Mordaunt confirmed today.

The decision to extend the scheme, which will give people another chance to showcase their wares and share tips for success with others, was down to the enthusiasm for the awards shown by traders, businesses and local communities.

The High Streets Minister announced the competition would go ahead again on a visit to Belper in Derbyshire, which was named Best Market Town and overall Champion in last year’s competition.
The Great British High Street competition has been instrumental in highlighting new and innovative ways to boost our shopping streets and town centres and provides a platform for sharing ideas that other places keen to rejuvenate their high streets can learn from.

High Streets Minister Penny Mordaunt said:

“I’ve have been bowled over by the pride, passion, and enthusiasm people have for their high streets and the value they place on them as an essential part of their community.
“We are a nation of shopkeepers and the Great British High Street competition will continue to share best practice to rejuvenate the high street, as well as reward the talent and drive of those working behind the scenes to make it happen.

“There was such enthusiasm for the competition last year, from towns like Belper, that it makes sense to hold it again so we can all learn more new ways to place high streets back at the heart of our communities.”

The minister urged people to start thinking about the competition now ahead of details on the categories and how to enter being announced later in the year.

The contest showcases the work happening on the ground by many communities and shopkeepers that is helping highs streets evolve into places that are at the heart of the community, where people want to shop and socialise.

The many successful examples from last year’s competition have been pulled together in a how-to guide so other towns and villages keen to rejuvenate their streets can gleam pointers.

The Government is committed to supporting high streets as part of its long-term economic plan and has provided local shops and businesses with a billion pound package of investment that includes targeted business rate discounts, sensible planning changes and action that reins in over-zealous parking practices

Further information

The national competition will be run by the Future High Streets Forum. Further details about the competition and the categories will be announced later this year.
The government has taken a series of steps to help local firms with business rates including:
· doubling small business rate relief since 2010; this has been extended for another year to 2016 – supporting 575,000 of the smallest businesses; 385,000 business will pay no rates at all

· allowing small firms to keep their small business rate relief where they take on a second property, helping them expand

· making small business rate relief easier to claim

· increasing the £1,000 business rate discount available in 2014 to 2015 to a £1,500 discount in 2015 to 2016 for shops, pubs and restaurants with a Rateable Value of up to £50,000, helping 278,000 firms

· a 50% discount for 18 months to new occupants of vacant shops, bringing them back into use

· a 2% cap in Retail Price Index increase in business rates for a second year – benefitting 1.3 million properties

· giving ratepayers a new legal right to pay bills over 12 instalments (rather than 10), helping firms with their cash flow;

· implementing the local retention of business rates, giving councils a direct financial incentive to support business, and ensuring the government funds for 50% of all council discretionary discounts

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