Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond today delivered the Budget to UK Parliament - the first one since the historic Brexit vote last year. He presented new plans for firms hit by increases in business rates as well as other key issues surrounding the real estate sector. Cushman & Wakefield have reacted with the following statements:
Digby Flower, Chair of UK & Ireland, Cushman & Wakefield, said: “The government’s task is to ensure the UK’s citizens and economy are equipped for the fact that the way we work, shop and live is changing rapidly in the face of technological, cultural and geopolitical forces. From a working perspective, we are increasingly seeing the rise of the gig economy and Government policy - whether that’s on skills or business rates - needs to adapt accordingly.
“So, while it is right that the Chancellor is prudent in spending plans ahead of the UK leaving the EU, we also must ensure we have the necessary physical and digital infrastructure to underpin a vibrant, diversifying economy. This is essential – and self-evidently in the best interests of the Exchequer.
“Likewise, it is essential that workers are equipped not for the world of the past, but success in the present and future. As all in the property know, automation and artificial intelligence are having an increasing impact and we must ensure future skills and training continue to be prioritised for investment so we meet these evolving needs.”
Mark Henderson, Head of Statutory Valuations at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “No surprises here. Given that Business Rates brings in £25bn to the Exchequer and has a phenomenally high collection rate of above 98%, the Chancellor was never going to scrap the tax.
“While £300m of central money for local authorities to use locally at their discretion is welcome, it is worth noting that discretionary hardship funds have always existed. Set against £25bn it will be spread very thinly, but anything helps.
“For those business owners facing the steepest hikes there was little comfort – the only silver lining being a less-expensive pint than they might otherwise have faced if drowning their sorrows in one of the pubs which will receive a £1,000 discount.
“The Chancellor mooted more frequent revaluations which is what businesses are crying out for as it will iron out the wild fluctuations thrown up by the current system. When the government consulted on this last year – on which businesses are still awaiting feedback – it said the Valuation Office Agency simply couldn’t manage to do this until 2022 at the earliest. If they can bring that forward, it would make all the difference.”