Government unveils commitments on Levelling Up and Access to Cash

Houses of Parliament

The government pledged to regenerate town centres and high streets and protect the millions of people in the UK who still use cash every day in this week’s Queen’s Speech.

One of the headline announcements in the Queen’s Speech was the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. Measures to be proposed in the Bill include:

  • Compulsory rental auctions on empty premises that have been unoccupied for more than a year.
  • The ability to make pavement cafés and other outdoor dining spaces that were temporarily introduced during Covid-19 a permanent fixture.
  • Local authorities to be given more powers to use compulsory purchase orders to deliver new infrastructure and regenerate town centres.

Also in the Queen’s Speech was the announcement of a Financial Services and Markets Bill, which aims to protect consumers’ access to cash.

Other notable Bills heralded include a Non-Domestic Rating Bill, which aims to modernise the business rates system and incentivise investment, and an Energy Security Bill to protect against global price fluctuations in energy costs.

In response, ACS chief executive James Lowman, said: “We welcome the intention of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to support town centres and high streets, but urge the government to recognise the importance of the thousands of local shops operating in secondary areas, estates and villages that continue to keep their communities going and should be a core part of the levelling up agenda.

“We await further detail of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and how the government intends to legislate to achieve the missions set out in the White Paper on areas like crime, health and connectivity, and will continue to engage with the Department for Communities and Local Government on how local shops can play their part in levelling up the UK.”

The NFRN’s National President, Narinder Randhawa, added: “We are pleased to see that the government shares the concerns of independent retailers around access to cash, business rates, crime and regenerating high streets and we urge it to tackle these issues with the energy and priority they deserve.”

“As well as wanting the government to move quickly, it is vital that it works with trade associations like The Fed regarding the detail to ensure that small businesses get the help and support they deserve.”