Commenting on The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement today, Senior Specialists from Colliers made the following comments:

General

Commenting on the Statement as a whole, Walter Boettcher, Chief Economist at Colliers International said: “The Autumn Statement 2014 will be remembered for the reform of residential stamp duty, a commitment to regional economic rebalancing, devolution of business rates to Wales and the abolition of the ‘death tax’ on pensions, all of which have substantial impacts on property via pricing impacts, development opportunities, business cost structures and pension investment funding.”

Business Rates

John Webber, Head of Rating at Colliers International: “Today’s announcement on business rates amounts to merely a tinkering around the edges of the problem, when a revaluation in 2016 could have been delivered.  A reform of the business rates system is all good and well but this just kicks the problem into the long grass - the measures announced add to the confusion and bureaucracy that exist today.  Retailers in New Bond Street may be raising a toast to the Chancellor – however, most retailers won’t be.”

Dan Simms, Head of Retail Agency – South at Colliers International: “Retailers will have not been expecting any real help on the business rates burden.  Nevertheless, the announcement of a vague review of the rates system will be a depressing continuation of the on-going and ever increasing pain that many retailers are experiencing, particularly in the areas that are least able to cope - the North, The Midlands and the South West.

Stamp Duty

Anthony Aitken, Head of Planning at Colliers International said: “The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement today revealed a significant overhaul of Stamp Duty.  This will be welcomed by housebuilders and will encourage housebuilding.  However, the key question arises, with an existing and significant under provision of new homes, housebuilding being at record low levels in recent years, there is now a greater responsibility for Local Authorities to meet their housing needs in full.  This is an imperative requirement for the South-East of England and for London in particular. It had been indicated that the government is going to build affordable housing again, for the first time in 40 years. This will improve the viability of housing sites for private housebuilders,  if they are relieved in whole or part for provision of affordable housing on their landholdings.  Colliers Planning team believes a balance of extensions to existing settlements as well as new Garden Cities and a statutory requirement to prepare a Local Plan, will also assist in addressing the housing shortfall.

“We believe the changes to Stamp Duty should make the process of buying and selling homes more fluid; freeing up a significant number of homebuyers to purchase homes.”

 

Northern Powerhouse

Adam Pyrke, Director of Planning at Colliers International, commenting on the investment vehicles created for the Northern Powerhouse: “There was much focus on a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ in the Budget Statement, but the National Infrastructure Plan shows investment spread across the whole of England.  This investment alone will not be sufficient to re-balance the regional economies and there remains a need for positive drivers such as financial or tax incentives to help redress the balance”


Sustainability

David Eynon, Senior Sustainability Advisor at Colliers International: “De-carbonisation of the UK economy didn’t make it onto the Chancellor’s agenda for this year’s Autumn Statement, and to many in the energy and sustainability sectors it was conspicuous by its absence, even as pre-Statement hopes for significant announcements were limited. Increased investment in flood defences confirmed prior to the Statement, to improve the resilience of the UK’s building stock to extreme weather events, are welcome. The freeze on fuel duty will also assist in reducing the burden of whole energy costs; but the announcement of further incentives or commitment to improve the energy efficiency of built assets, both domestic and commercial, would have worked towards helping individuals and businesses to reduce their exposure to the long term trend of rising energy prices. Now that the Statement has fired the starting pistol on the General Election campaigning, it will be interesting to see over the next 6 months how significant a role the sustainability agenda will play in the major political parties’ manifestos.”