The Chancellor George Osborne MP announced his Autumn Statement to Parliament today. Our initial response focused on stamp duty, small business rates and infrastructure.
Finally we see long overdue reform to the stamp duty tax system – described by the Chancellor as the most damaging tax of all. Time and time again RICS has called for these changes to stamp duty structure, from which 98% of house buyers will now benefit.
These changes reduce distortion and ensure those at the top end of the market contribute fairly, while those at the bottom will be given a fairer chance to get on the ladder, cutting out ‘dead zones’ in the market.
Small Business Rates
We fully support the extension of small business rate relief. However, the government should focus on devolving business rates retention in order to enable local decision-making to drive local economic growth.
The most recent RICS Commercial Market Survey highlighted that, throughout the UK, the availability of office space has declined for the sixth consecutive quarter. This decline is the fastest since the late 1990s; therefore the announcement of the business rate review will be welcomed by the market at a time when it needs to see sign of growth. The review must create a simpler business rate system that's fitter for the purpose of encouraging business growth and making a real impact on the high street.
Infrastructure is key to building homes and unlocking growth potential in our economic centres. To be internationally competitive and attract inward investment, the UK needs to inject pace and clarity into its infrastructure delivery.
The government’s announcements before and during the Autumn Statement show new intent to provide long-term funding, but it remains to be seen how it can speed up delivery.