Sussex high streets failing
Sussex shopping areas are said to be at risk of further decline if current vacancy trends continue. One in seven shops are currently unoccupied throughout county shopping centres and three quarters of these main shopping areas are suffering vacancy rates higher than the national average.
A survey, jointly undertaken by the Local Data Company and the British Property Federation has highlighted the growing number of vacant retail properties within the county.
The highest rates were found in Crawley at 14.8 percent, whilst Brighton and Hove holds the lowest at 11.5 percent, which is lower than the national average.
Experts say that it is the inability to keep up with the growth of online shopping that has hit the high street hardest, whilst the growth of large out of town shopping malls has further hindered the success of high street retail.
Areas such as Eastbourne are hoping that investment will lead to improved growth in the retail sector, including a proposed £65 million extension to the Eastbourne Arndale Centre.
‘Life Rafts’ bypass sharks
Sussex residents burdened by the financial crisis are turning more and more to ‘Life Raft’ loans offered by the county’s credit unions.
County residents who seek loans to see them through until pay day now have the option to apply to the West Sussex Credit Union, which bypasses loan sharks and other extortionate rates of interest.
The Credit Union’s aims are to help people get their finances back on track in a fair and ethical manner, but they can only achieve this if enough people save with them.
Their appeal is aimed at people who are indebted, who are surrounded by the seemingly tempting advances of pay-day loans without realising the consequences of their borrowing.
The hope is to ease people away from the spiral of debt created when individuals use loan sharks and other pay day lenders.
Living wage debate rages
The prospect of a ‘living wage’ becoming implemented in Brighton and Hove is continuing to cause a stir among the city’s business leaders.
The main proponent of the initiative is Julia Chanteray, the President of Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce. Chanteray argues that replacing the National Minimum Wage with a living wage of £7.20 an hour will have progressive economic benefits for growth in Brighton and Hove as well as increasing the standard of living for those involved.
However, some business owners in Brighton and Hove have disagreed claiming that the increase in wages could lead to businesses hiring fewer members of staff and therefore increasing the already dire unemployment figures.
There is still considerable debate as to whether this initiative is practically viable, regardless of the scheme’s inherently positive intentions.