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Market Commentary

​​Weekly Retail & Leisure News - 23 March, 2015

2015 Budget: Business rates review and ‘northern powerhouse’ vision

A "radical" review of the business rates system in England was announced in last week’s Budget. The review "paves the way for changes" to the current system, which has been in place since 1988, the Treasury said. However, the outcome is expected to be fiscally neutral, meaning that the total sum collected from businesses will not change. Tim Beattie, Head of Rating at JLL commented: "A review is all well and good, but you have to ask how much a fiscally neutral review can actually achieve. If the retail sector is to benefit from any reform it follows that under a fiscally neutral review there will have to be losers to pay for the winners.”

The Budget was also notable for George Osborne’s outlining of his vision for building a "northern powerhouse" in the UK. Guy Grainger, CEO, JLL UK commented: "The UK has become one of the most attractive places for domestic and international businesses to locate but to stay at the top it is important that an economic powerhouse in the North provides a high quality, fast and accessible alternative to London and the South East.”

In addition, signs of ongoing improvement in the housing market were evident last week, as Travis Perkins announced significant expansion plans. The home improvement retailer plans to create 4,000 jobs by opening 400 new branches across the UK over the next four years. It listed the government's Help-to-Buy scheme, recent reforms to stamp duty and lower unemployment as providing stimulus to the overall housing market and people's ability to invest in improving their homes. Travis Perkins currently operates over 2000 branches across the UK.

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