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CBI welcomes Queen&#39s speech

The CBI said yesterday that business would give “six out of ten” to the legislative programme set out in the Queen&#39s speech.

John Cridland, Deputy Director-General, said: “The government is making huge strides with planning reform and communications regulation, but there will be real concern about regional assemblies, business rates and charges for development.”

On the Planning Bill, he said: “The government deserves a huge amount of praise for pushing ahead with reform of the planning system. This is the best opportunity in a generation to change the tortuous processes that have such a negative effect on business development.

“That said, much of what business want does not need to be in the Bill as it does not require primary legislation. We want local authorities to have tough targets on the time they take over planning decisions, as well as the resources to meet them.”

On the Communications Bill, he said: “The creation of a single regulator should lead to a significant reduction in costs for many businesses. We will press for more business involvement in decision making but the arrival of Ofcom will be a real boost for the rapidly-changing communications industry.”

On Regional Assemblies, he said: “There is no evidence that regional assemblies will add anything to economic development. Indeed, they are likely to hamper decision making. Why is the government spending time on this when there are better ways to boost regional economies?”

On the Local Government Bill, he said: “There will be real concern about business rates. The government wants to give smaller firms tax relief without bearing the costs. That means other businesses will have to pay more. Small firms should be helped in other ways without the rest of business having to pay for it. This is giving with one hand and taking with the other when we already have one of the highest levels of property taxation in Europe.”

On charging for development (included in the Planning Bill), he said: “Councils should have powers to charge firms when a development is to impact on a community. But they should not have carte blanche to extract money from companies. This would be nothing more than a tax on development.”


Interest rates on hold

The Bank of England&#39s monetary policy committee kept UK interest rates at 4% last week – for the 12th month in a row, writes Harriet Williams. Pundits say sluggish economic growth overseas and a weak UK manufacturing sector had supported the case for a rate reduction. But strong house price growth and consumer borrowing must […]

Extra £70m annually for affordable housing

New proposals to amend local authority regulations on capital receipts could release up to £70 million each year for the provision of affordable housing. A consultation published yesterday on regulations, allowing councils greater freedom and flexibility to manage their housing assets, is proposing to enable them to replace inefficient housing with modern dwellings better suited […]

Rural communities need affordable homes too, says Rooker

Countryside communities need their own version of an urban renaissance to prevent an affordable housing crisis, Housing, Planning and Regeneration Minister Jeff Rooker said last week. Rising house prices and low wages have blighted rural communities in recent years. Migration from the countryside has continued as people – especially the young – have found themselves […]

House price rises will drag more homeowners into the tax net

Research from the Halifax, based on official figures, shows that tax revenue raised from both stamp duty on residential property and inheritance tax attributable to housing wealth is estimated to have risen almost five-fold from £735 million in 1992/93 to £3,638 million in 2001/02. This dramatic increase has been driven by the failure of successive […]


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