Should we save the high street?

Monday 4th October | 10:15 – 11:15


High streets are struggling. Online shopping has rocketed and footfall in shops has plummeted. But should we try to preserve them? Are taxes too high, or should the delivery giants be forced to pay more? How might business rates be reformed to better take account of the economic value provided by retailers? What – if anything – should be done?

John O’Connell (Chair) | joined the TPA as an intern in 2009. Since then he has worked at every level of the organisation which made him uniquely qualified to become Chief Executive beginning August 2016. As a researcher, and later Research Director, he wrote major reports for the TPA on quangos, government capital procurement, regional business policy and local government pensions. He co-authored the influential paper How to Save £50 Billion: reducing spending for sustainable public finances, released in conjunction with the Institute of Directors. He also uncovered how local councils were spending Preventing Violent Extremism grants, finding more detailed information than could be gathered by Parliamentary Questions. John oversaw the work of the 2020 Tax Commission. He also wrote and edited several sections of its final report, The Single Income Tax, which won the Templeton Freedom Award from the Atlas Network. John frequently represents the TPA on television and radio, including prominent appearances on flagship broadcast programmes and documentaries. He also regularly speaks for the TPA at events, delivering speeches on the TPA’s campaigns and research. In April 2012 John completed the Think Tank MBA in America, an intensive training course offered by the Atlas Network. He has a BA from Nottingham Trent University and an MSc from University College London.

Rt Hon Jake Berry MP | is chair of the Northern Research Group of Conservative MPs and has represented Rossendale and Darwen since 2010. Before entering politics, Jake studied for a Law degree at Sheffield University before becoming a Solicitor in 2003

Nick Lakin | is Group Director of Corporate Affairs at Kingfisher. Nick has held a number of communication and corporate affairs positions and studied law at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Paul Scully MP | is Minister for London, Parliamentary Under-secretary for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, and has represented Sutton and Cheam since 2015. Prior to entering parliament, Paul attended the University of Reading and set up a number of small businesses.

Paul Wilson | joined the Federation of Small Business in April 2021 as Policy Director. He oversees all of FSB’s policy development work and research in Westminster, lobbying on behalf of small businesses across the UK. Recent FSB policy reports delivered by Paul’s team have included issues including debt, regulatory reform, tourism and hospitality. Prior to joining FSB, Paul worked at the Law Society as their Director of Public Affairs, where he was responsible for the Society’s domestic and international influencing and media work.