13 March 2018
Business leaders in Greater Birmingham have welcomed news of a £100m housing boost for the West Midlands in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement.
A deal has been agreed for the West Midlands Combined Authority to receive £100m from the Land Remediation Fund towards the build of 215,000 homes per year.
The Land Remediation Fund enables the release of surplus or unused land to develop for new housing.
Elsewhere in his Spring Statement, Chancellor Phillip Hammond also said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) expects inflation to fall from 3 per cent back to the target 2 per cent over the next 12 months.
Growth is expected to be unchanged at 1.3 per cent in 2019 and 2020 before picking up to 1.4 per cent in in 2021 and 1.5 per cent in 2022.
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner (pictured) said: “Many businesses will have breathed a sigh of relief as the chancellor stuck to his word and did not announce any major changes in this Spring Statement.
“Instead he focused on updates on how funds already earmarked are being allocated.
“There was good news for the region the West Midlands Combined Authority’s housing deal was announced.
“We are well aware that having an affordable and attractive place to live with good links to employment opportunities is a vital part of being able to attract and retain talent and staff in the region. Kick-starting further housebuilding in this way is a welcome move.
“There was also good news on the economy performing better than expected and the announcement of new funds on preparing employers for T Levels and helping SMEs take on apprentices. We will be informing our members of how they can best benefit from these opportunities as the detail becomes clear.”
However, business leaders are calling for more decisive action on business rates in the Autumn Budget to avoid further strain on high street retailers.
The Chancellor vowed to reduce business rates by £10bn and bring forward the first wave of triannual revaluations to 2021.
Mr Faulkner said: “The Chancellor has not gone far enough on business rates. We have seen consistently in recent weeks just how hard hit our high streets are by rising rates.
“Many other businesses reliant on physical space also share retailers’ pain. The time for tweaks around the edges on business rates is over, in this digital age businesses need a fundamental overhaul of this outdated input tax based on bricks and mortar if we are to retain and grow vibrant business and retail centres.
“We urge the Chancellor to make this a priority in his Autumn Budget.”
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