Infrastructure boost is ‘not enough’

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Property experts in the Sheffield City Region have expressed disappointment at George Osborne’s failure to abolish the imposition of rates on commercial property standing empty.

Tim Bottrill from the Sheffield office of consultants Knight Frank said: “It’s a disgrace the Government keeps charging rates on empty properties and the gestures they have made are no great incentive to investors.”

Mr Bottrill welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement of plans to invest an extra £15 billion in UK infrastructure over the next 10 years, but reckoned the figure was nowhere near enough. “I’m a great advocate of infrastructure projects,” said Mr Bottrill. “They have been sadly lacking in the UK. If we are going to compete worldwide we have got to invest in our infrastructure, but £15 billion over 10 years is not even half of HS2.”

Andy Ward, managing partner in PwC’s Sheffield office, agreed.

“Every additional pound of investment in infrastructure is to be welcomed,” said Mr Ward.

“Regrettably the announced sum is insignificant relative to the infrastructure backlog. The reality is it won’t make a significant impact on economic growth as it comprises less than 0.2 per cent of GDP.”