Greens set out charter for small businesses to help high streets thrive

The Green Party has committed to helping the UK’s high streets thrive in a green economy by setting out a charter for small businesses.

Under its proposals, the party is offering to create regional mutual banks to drive investment in decarbonisation, rejoin the EU customs union, and give VAT and rates exemptions to businesses.

It has also pledged to spend £2 billion a year on grant funding for local authorities to help businesses decarbonise and hopes to encourage community ownership.

Ellie Chowns, the party’s candidate for North Herefordshire, said the charter will support business to “survive and prosper”, adding they are the “lifeblood of our economy and our communities”.

Ms Chowns added: “This is a comprehensive package offering direct support to small businesses that also introduces measures to encourage customers to get to and use small local businesses.

“These innovations will set the framework for small enterprises to succeed and our high streets to once again become vital community hubs.

 A head and shoulder photo of Ellie Chowns smiling
Green candidate Ellie Chowns set out the plans (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“These new regional banks would be capitalised through a co-operative development fund using some of the funds made available through the United Kingdom Infrastructure Bank, along with an additional £10 billion of public money.

“Local authorities would be funded nationally to channel grants worth £2 billion per year to local businesses which want to decarbonise faster.

“Our new generation of Green MPs will press in Parliament to remove any legal blocks to companies wanting to transform into mutual organisations, especially at the point of succession from one owner to another.”

The former MEP said the current approach to support for business is “failing” and the Greens will offer them a “win-win-win package”.

She added: “Some small local businesses struggle to get their payments on time which can leave them financially exposed and unable to thrive on our high streets.

“Elected Greens will campaign to bring the Prompt Payment Code into law and bar late payers from public-procurement contracts.

“We also want to mandate the Small Business Commissioner to investigate potential instances of poor payment proactively, instead of only when a complaint has been made.”

Other Green pledges include backing farmers to produce and sell more food locally, free bus travel for under-18s, and building more social housing.