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Welsh BID Budget 2017 Headlines and Analysis 

  • By Your Pontypridd
  • 23 Nov, 2017

Chancellor Phillip Hammond delivered his Budget yesterday in the House of Commons and the headlines are as follows

  •  Economic forecasts from the Office of Budget Responsibility
  •  Weaker productivity, but still economic growth over the next few years
  •  Household spending and investment continues to grow
  •  Another 600,000 people in work by 2020
  •  Borrowing to continue to fall until 2021

 For Business Improvement Districts the news was mixed

Small business support

  • Business rates re-evaluation once every 3 years not 5
  • Business rates to be uprated with CPI instead of RPI from 2018. The measure was brought forward by two years after intense lobbying by the BRC and the CBI
  • Keeping VAT threshold for small businesses at £85,000, this is vitally important for small business in Pontypridd to ensure that they can continue to trade and grow and provide employment for the town.
  • New measures to ensure online retail markets are liable for VAT as well as the sellers to ensure better parity with high street traders

Transport & Infrastructure

Much applies to England with £1.9 billion for transport improvements in the Oxford – Milton Keynes corridor by 2021 and £3.95 billion for the Tyne & Wear Metro by 2021

But for Wales, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority will publish an update to the National

Also the introduction of the ‘millennial’ railcard for 26-30 year olds, good for Business Improvement Districts looking to attract shoppers and visitors.

National Living Wage

From April 2018, the National Living Wage (previously the National Minimum Wage) will see the following increases according to age:

  •  Increased rate for 21+ year olds to £7.38 per hour
  •  Increased rate for 18 to 20 year to £5.90 per hour

Much of the local government funding and housing Development applies to England as those powers are devolved to the Welsh and Scottish Government’s, however a few things still apply

Planning reforms will be introduced that will ensure more land is available for housing, and that better use is made of underused land in our cities and towns

Abolishing stamp duty for first time buyers on the first £300,000 of any new home purchase

On Brexit, UK Government is focusing on securing certainty for businesses so they can better plan long term investments. The budget contained some very welcome measures for BIDs but also highlighted a few emerging concerns.

  Your Pontypridd BIDs’ analysis

As the Chancellor acknowledged businesses wanted as much certainty as possible from the Brexit negotiations when looking at future long investment, including in our town centres.

Many economists over the past few years have highlighted productivity as an issue for the economy going forward, and this was reflected in new OBR figures. That said, predictions on household spend and employment numbers were up which bodes well for consumer spending.

The Chancellor’s solution to improving productivity is to invest heavily in transport and digital infrastructure, which is positive for BIDs. The more people can move and communicate with BID destinations for work and leisure the better and the Chancellor announced major projects in many larger cities as well as support for smaller projects across the county.

The millennial railcard is an interesting proposal from the Chancellor with off-peak railcards which are designed purely to make the cost of leisure activities cheaper for the age group. This is again positive for many BIDs’ marketing initiatives to attract visitors and tourists.

Business rate reform for small businesses was also a key part of the Chancellor’s support for small businesses with moves to increase the frequency of rate reviews and the switch from RPI to CPI would take place in 2018 instead of 2020 thanks to a well-run campaign by the BCC and the CBI, but these measure now needs action from the Welsh Government to ensure Welsh business isn’t disadvantaged.

An interesting inclusion into the Budget was the news that online market places will now also be liable for VAT as well as sellers, in a move designed to bring more parity between online retailers and traditional traders. All of these measures will be welcomed by BID levy payers.

The Chancellor’s commitment to build more homes in urban centres need to be monitored to ensure  it doesn’t put more pressure on local authorities like Rhondda Cynon Tad County Borough council to convert more vacant commercial space into residential under permitted development rights.

Finally, another measure that levy payers will be interested in is the increase in the National Living Wage announced for this April. Businesses in the retail and leisure sectors will need to start incorporating this into their future planning now to ensure the impact is as managed as possible.

Overall from a Your Pontypridd BID perspective the measures in the Budget on business rates are welcome if the Welsh government follows suit and BIDs and levy payers should monitor the impact of housing and pay policies to ensure their impact on the local trading environment is as managed as possible.

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