ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has welcomed commitments made by the Government in today’s Queen’s Speech to regenerate town centres and high streets, and protect the millions of people in the UK who still use cash every day.
One of the headline Bills announced in the Queen’s Speech was the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. Measures to be proposed in the Bill, which follow the Levelling Up White Paper published in February this year, include:
• Compulsory rental auctions on empty premises that have been unoccupied for more than a year
• The ability to make pavement cafes 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 with the intention of delivering new infrastructure and regeneration in town centres
• A requirement on the Government to produce an annual report updating the country on its progress toward the delivery of the levelling up agenda
ACS chief executive James Lowman (pictured) 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.”
Also in the Queen’s Speech was the announcement of a Financial Services and Markets Bill, which aims to protect consumers’ access to cash through the continued availability of cash withdrawal and deposit facilities throughout the UK.
James went on, “We are encouraged by the Government’s commitment to protect access to cash through new legislation. Cash is still an incredibly important way of paying for goods and managing money for millions of people, and convenience stores play an increasingly important role in being often the only provider of ATM services locally.”
Other notable Bills announced in the Queen’s Speech include a Non-Domestic Rating Bill which aims to modernise the business rates system and incentivise investment, a Brexit Freedoms Billto repeal and reform regulations on businesses, and an Energy Security Bill to protect against global price fluctuations in energy costs.