IN the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and associated lockdown, the focus is increasingly shifting to how we restart our local and national economies.

In light of this, the Federation of Small Businesses has written to local MPs, setting out three priorities where their support could really make a positive difference.

Firstly, we have highlighted once again the challenges faced by our local high streets. We were concerned about their future even before Covid-19 and produced a national report – Streets Ahead – highlighting why small businesses are crucial to our city and town centres.

The recovery of our high streets must be pursued as local and national priorities and we are keen to ensure small businesses are supported and encouraged to work with policymakers on delivering much valued high street experiences.

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Secondly, we have highlighted the plight of young people, whose employment prospects have been hit hardest in recent months.

Once again, this was an issue prior to the outbreak, with youth unemployment in the West Midlands running at more than 13 per cent, which is significantly higher than the national average.

Today, there is increased concern now for those leaving school, college, or university. Small businesses and the self-employed need to be part of a permanent solution for the future and it needs to be easier for them to offer opportunities to young people leaving education.

Thirdly, we expect to see an increase in those starting their own business or going self-employed in the recovery. We want to make sure that these new ventures receive support that is appropriate for their needs.

We ask in the short term that Local Authorities retain any remaining Covid-19 funding and have greater power to distribute the money to the right places.

In the longer term, we want to see Business Support programmes available to all who contribute to the success of our local and national economies.