BUSINESSES in Thurrock could receive up to £3,000 from the council to tidy up their shop fronts.
The cash will be targeted in four areas of the borough that have been hit by the knock-on effect of empty premises and is funded by Eric Pickles' Department of Communities and Local Government.
Businesses eligible for the scheme include those in Aveley, Socketts Heath, Stanford-le-Hope and South Ockendon, which can apply for grants towards external renovation or improvement of ground and upper floor shops.
Ultimate Choice Bathrooms on Kings Street, Stanford-le-Hope, recently used a grant to renew its shop front.
Owner Trevor Hollisey said: “The scheme has helped us improve our shop front - it looks much better now and really does make a difference to the parade.
"It just makes it a nicer place to visit.”
The council's regeneration spokesman Councillor Andy Smith said: “This fund offers something to our high street businesses.
"Often they are the heart and soul of their community and have a long history on their high street.
“They face huge competition from Lakeside and receive very little government support.
"We should do more to support them.”
Further details on the scheme, including eligibility, can be found at http://www.thurrock.gov.uk/shop-front-improvement