Save Our High Street Campaign Launched

Labour MPs across Yorkshire and the Humber have given their backing to a Labour Party campaign launching today to "Save Our High Street".

Retail figures published recently showed high street shops were continuing to struggle while the Government stands by and does nothing.

Slow retail sales and the recent wave of high street failures have been exacerbated by the Government’s VAT hike and its failure to back Labour’s plan to give local people a real say over the future of their high street.

Latest figures show 28% of shops in Rotherham and 22% of shops in Leeds stand empty, while retail sales remain sluggish with a monthly increase in volume of 0.7% in June following a 1.4% fall in May. According to the Office of National Statistics this week, "the underlying pattern in the monthly retail sales growth rate was flat."

Labour is calling for the Government to implement its four point plan to Save Our High Streets;

1. Cut VAT - introduce a temporary cut in VAT from 20% to 17.5%, to give struggling retailers a boost and put £450 back into each family’s pocket.

2. Give local people the power to put the heart back into the high street. By amending the Localism Bill, Labour would give communities a real say in developing a plan for their local shops.

3. Repeat Labour’s empty shops initiative, enabling councils to pursue innovative uses for empty shops and reinvigorate high-streets, such as using vacant units for cultural, community or learning services, rather than leaving them empty. We would fund a £5 million programme as part of the £200 million allocated to regional growth from a repeat of the bank bonus tax.

4. Promote a fair playing field on the High Street by putting a competition test into the planning system.

Rachel Reeves,

"22% of shops in Leeds currently stand empty, while the latest national figures show that footfall on the high street has fallen by 5.4% in the last year. The Tory-led Government has opposed Labour’s plan to cut VAT to give our high street a boost and has failed to back Labour’s call to give local people a greater say over their high street.

"I want the Government to take action so we can put the heart back in places like Armley, Bramley and Kirkstall in Leeds West."

Jack Dromey MP,

Shadow Local Government Minister, said:

"The Tories opposed Labour’s plan to give local people a real say over the future of their High Street.

"Rachel Reeves MP is right to campaign for greater say over the future of high streets to local residents in West Yorkshire."

Chuka Umunna,

Shadow Minister for Small Business and Enterprise, said:

"We are now seeing the true cost of the Tory led government’s VAT hike with the wave of retailers going into administration, hurting consumers and jobs by choking off growth.

"The Tory-led Government should enact Labour’s VAT cut now and repeat Labour’s empty shop initiative to put confidence back into the high street and money into consumers’ pockets. The Tory-led government’s VAT hike is costing the average family £450 a year."

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