Drawn up and originally published in May 2020, the “Reopening High Streets Safely Fund” was updated last Thursday with more details of the activities that can now be supported and how it is to be administered. This £50 million fund is provided by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund), which most will find surprising, since the UK left the EU at the end of January 2020.

The money is meant to provide support to councils across England, to help them safely reopen commercial areas and high streets by creating a safe environment for both customers and businesses, through to the end of March 2021. The update this week has clarified some of the requirements of evidence of expenditure, as well as details of what can be included in the scheme. Reimbursement for expenditure was eligible for repayment of costs incurred after June 1st and has 4 distinct sections. The first, is continuing support to local authorities whilst they are planning how to reopen and maintain their local commercial centres.
The second, is how to communicate to the local population, that it is safe to reopen via the media, in terms of online digital presence, press activities, and poster campaigns. Thirdly, the communications to the businesses on how they may need to adjust their premises, to promote good practice and social distancing. And lastly, are the changes to the public spaces, that needed to be made to the areas next to businesses, to ensure they continue to be as safe as possible.