Three times more town centre stores are now vacant compared with last autumn and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called for action to secure the future of UK high streets.

In a new report - 21st Century High Streets: A new vision for our town centres – the BRC has outlined a twenty point plan on how town centres can help survive through the current recession and beyond.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “High streets are the heart of local communities and economies – providing jobs and essential services. They are a crucial part of our national retail mix but many of them are in trouble, facing difficulties that began well before the current recession.

The report gives key recommendations for helping local high streets including deterring crime, looking at high parking charges and town centre designs.

The BRC has begun a series of meetings with the Local Government Association and the three main political parties to encourage action and change.