CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak is looking at plans to hand out hundreds of pounds in vouchers to families to get our high streets back on their feet.

The vouchers could see adults given £500 each, and each child £250, to spend in shops badly hit by the coronavirus lockdown.

This comes as alarming data released by the British Retail Consortium yesterday revealed high street footfall was down 50 per cent year on year, in the third week of non-essential shops re-opening.

Businesses in Southend say they are delighted with the proposals – with the plans similarly well received just up the A127 in Basildon.

Bosses have welcomed “anything that will get people spending money on our high streets”.


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Alan Dadswell, chairman of Toys n Tuck, an independent toy store off Queens Road, said: “Any business is good business.

“We need as much business as we can get at the moment.

“Any scheme to help boost business on the high street is a positive.

“It can only be seen as a positive.

“We will have to wait and see how it would be implemented but it would really help.

“All of the independent businesses are up and running but the bigger chains are holding off. It looks like they’re waiting until the furlough scheme ends.

“Our business is not what it was but we have to do what we can.

“We wouldn’t expect families to spend all their money in a toy store, but anything would be brilliant.

“We hope there would be some guidelines for what people can spend them on, and it’s not just all online.”

Paul Thompson, owner of Pebbles One cafe, has said footfall on the high street is helped by Southend’s seafront and not Government schemes.

He said: “Although this would be a positive and will more likely see more drivers come to Southend for shopping, free parking needs to be introduced to properly achieve this.

“Until then, the high street will rely on seafront footfall and visitors to our beaches.”

Ron Woodley, deputy leader at Southend Council, is delighted at the idea, and said the vouchers would be an incentive to shoppers visiting.

He added: “It’s a really good idea and combined with our parking initiatives it would drive people back to our high street.

“With restaurants and shops re-opening, visitors can enjoy our high street with hopefully some vouchers to spend.”

The proposal was originally put forward by think tank the Resolution Foundation.