18th March 2015
A Budget that delivers for the South West and Wales
Today’s Budget was, overall, good news for the South West and Welsh economies, say property consultants Alder King, with the Chancellor George Osborne confirming a long-overdue review of business rates and significant new regional transport and infrastructure investments.
Martyn Jones, senior partner at Alder King, said: “After a well-mounted campaign to persuade the Government to review business rates, the announcement of a review comes as no surprise, but is welcome nonetheless.
“Businesses now have the opportunity to put forward recommendations for a tax that promotes growth, keeps pace with the economy and is simple to administer. However we have to be careful that this isn’t a case of smoke and mirrors.
“The Government’s terms of reference document for the review states that it will be ‘fiscally neutral’, meaning the amount of tax generated – in excess of £20 billion per annum – will essentially remain the same, albeit calculated using a different formula.
“We are however very encouraged by the pilot proposals to allow Greater Manchester and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to keep 100% of business rates revenue over and above projected levels. This will act as a major incentive for new development. The Chancellor has indicated that the door is open to other areas that wish to follow in their ambitious footsteps, something the Severn Powerhouse campaign would be keen to adopt and we would fully support.
“Fast, efficient and cost-effective transport is key to business development,” continues Mr Jones. “We are therefore very pleased to see that there will be a £7 billion investment in south west transport infrastructure, including the creation of a rail franchise and new Intercity Express trains giving more frequent services and faster journey times.
“Reducing the cost of the Severn Bridge road tolls, once the bridge is in public ownership post-2018, will also support business and help break down barriers between the South West and Wales.”
Other positive measures include supporting the creation of a new Enterprise Zone within the south Naval Dockyard in Plymouth and a study into the financial viability of the £1 billion Swansea Bay tidal lagoon scheme.