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How the Budget failed to erode the North-South divide

29 March 2014

The Budget contained eye-catching measures to stimulate business investment, which has been lagging badly behind the current recovery, and to encourage exporters, whose performance has trailed off after a promising mid-recession uptick when the pound weakened.

But there was little to address the scandalous unfairness of business rates about which I regularly hold forth. These punitive charges — ‘£26 billion for George Osborne that… he might otherwise have to take direct from you and me,’ I wrote last year — on which businesses have no vote and for which they get so few services in return, are still based on pre-recessionary 2008 valuations of commercial property. The next revaluation has been deferred twice and won’t happen until 2017, supposedly to provide ‘stability’ but clearly also to avoid upsetting core segments of Tory business support before next year’s election.

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What’s significant about the overdue revision is that it might erode the divide between London and the rest of the country. Research suggests that more than half the retailers in the north and Midlands would have had their business rates cut in a 2015 revaluation, while half the shops in London would have faced a significant rise. Tackling that imbalance would send a slice of prosperity up the line 20 years faster than HS2.

This is an extract from Martin Vander Weyer’s ‘Any Other Business’ column in this week’s Spectator. Click here to subscribe to the Spectator.

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    I like your ideas about above topics. Your Post covers most of all the points related to the topic.BY – help with matlab

  • alabenn

    The North has suffered almost 100 years of local Labour rule, it will take a long time to put that right, it will never happen unless the people up here grow up and stop sucking on the bile filled teat that Labour proffer.

    • Alex_Cheshire

      The reason that voters in the North Vote Labour is that they fear a Labour government less than they fear a Tory one.

  • HookesLaw

    The reality is that the coucil tax revaluation if it had been carried out would have cost householder’s hundreds of pounds. Perhaps Mr Weyer can tell us how he would have defended the govt from the inevitabke ‘cost of living’ attacks.

    • Tom Tom

      Householders have nothing to do with Business Rates

  • Kitty MLB

    We need to remember that wherever there is a Labour council that place is
    more depraved. And the majority are up North. Whose blind hatred of Conservatism
    makes them foolish enough to keep on voting Labour. Despite that wretched
    bunch of champagne socialists destroying the manufacturing towns of the North
    for cheap goods from China and making their beloved London too important.
    They had a chance to elect their own mayors, which would have benefitted them–
    But Oh no, ‘ we do not want another Boris’.

    • Raddiy

      Kitty, I think you are placing party loyalty above the reality, both major parties have neglected the North for decades, the main difference between the incompetents in your party and the incompetents in the Labour party, is that your party seems to enjoy doing it.

      Labour are also a waste of space as far as the North is concerned and their old core vote is slowly starting to realise that. In the event they win in 2015, they will be the target for UKIP all the way to 2020 as they no doubt will revert to their primary school economic principles. In a by election in Sunderland on Thursday UKIP came 2nd but took 28% of the vote from a standing start, and nearly all of that came from Labour. The Conservative party is finished in the North, it will never be given another chance, and that means you are finished as a party of majority government.

      Your party doesn’t give a toss about the North, and hasn’t for decades if it ever did, and now is being rewarded for that neglect with total rejection.

      I notice you are posting again on ConHome without changing your account, do they consider you have done your penance, and allowed you back on.

      • Kitty MLB

        Raddy I have not been barred from Con Home
        but boycotting the place in protest to their agenda
        and the barring of likeminded and interesting
        people . I turned up yesterday and Wednesday
        to remind them the place is turning into
        the Marie Celeste and to say Adios to Sally,
        I shall not return until others do.
        Labour utterly despise the North and the
        likes of Miliband place a peg on his nose
        when visiting, I am sure, Conservatives
        do not have a clue what to do with a part
        of the country that despises them.
        As Nigel Farage said in his excellent debate,
        UKIP are not so much about Conservative
        votes and wish for old Labour votes-
        The new party for old labour .

        • Raddiy

          Very noble of you Kitty, I doubt it will happen with the current editors, who seem to have sacrificed the integrity and relevance of the site for party political reasons, not sure I would be very happy if I was paying the bills. i notice a few seem to have opened new accounts with new names to presumably get around the ban for the moment.Can’t see the point myself.

          I’m focusing on Labour at the moment, and was in the pub the other night when the debate was on, Nigel did okay, but nothing special in my view, but every time Clegg went off on one of his obfuscating moments, the moans were audible, and the absence of Cameron and Milliband raised a few expletives.

    • Tom Tom

      depraved or deprived ?

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    “Mr and Mrs Miller sold the large house in Wimbledon for £1.47 million on
    Valentine’s Day of this year. They originally bought the house for £234,000
    – which means the house value increased by £1,236,000.” (source: DT)

    Britain has gone completely in-sane! There has been no wealth creation for decades, only asset price fixes.

  • Drabble

    We all live in the same land and should pay the same taxes but to expect the same business taxes in Consett to Orpington is plainly unfair

    • HookesLaw

      Would the rateable values be the same?

      • Tom Tom

        Business rates are based on Rents which are rarely flexed downwards by property companies…….it is a tax unrelated to profits and basically kills restaurants, small storage, and small businesses but acts in favour of big retail sheds owned by chains rated as warehouses

  • HookesLaw

    ‘£26 billion for George Osborne that…’ for the govt. And where would it come from if not from business rates?
    And why is it needed? A small matter of a £160 billion defict inherited from Labour.

    • Tom Tom

      Don’t be stupid… is a tax that favours Tesco over corner shop or cemetery. Yes cemeteries and crematoria pay business rates

  • telemachus

    What’s significant about the overdue revision is that it might erode the divide between London and the rest of the country. Research suggests that more than half the retailers in the north and Midlands would have had their business rates cut in a 2015 revaluation, while half the shops in London would have faced a significant rise.
    Osborne and his Home Counties friends could not give a stuff about anyone outside their microcosm
    His philosophy remains us and ours
    If you walk round most Northern towns you find only Charity shops, financial businesses and boarded up shops
    WE need a rerun of Peterloo up here

    • Colonel Mustard

      Labour constituencies and Labour councils are predominant in the North. Labour were in power for 13 years for much of that time with an effective majority in parliament and a healthy economy inherited from the Tories.


      So why is the North still deprived? What did the Labour government, the Labour councils and the Labour MPs do to improve the situation? Four years into a coalition government struggling to pull the country out of a recession and you blame them for the state of the North? Not credible, partisan, tribalist and infantile.


      Labour grandees are just as guilty of being London-centric as the Tories. But even more so, since they predominantly represent the deprived North they are guilty of doing nothing about that for which they are responsible. In fact the evidence speaks for itself:-

      • dalai guevara

        Colonel – do we need to regurgitate this Thatcher stuff over and over again? The great lady *chose* to centralise the economic output of this nation like no other before her. It has split the country. The country *is* now split. The policies have taken full effect.

        We now have what we have – 8 out of 10 new jobs created in the centre, public expenditure 25% higher in the centre than in the rest of England, a public transport infrastructure only supported massively by the public purse in the centre, not the regions. The list goes on. These are the results of centralisation, only decentralisation or, if this does not finally sink in, a federalisation of Britain is now on the cards to mitigate it.

        • HookesLaw

          Absurd – there is rail investment in the north and rail investment linking the north to the south. A new crossing over the Forth a new motoerway round gGlasgoe and indeed so where you look in Scotland new roads.

          • Tom Tom

            Scotland is not The North: it is Scotland

          • Alexsandr

            read the April edition of Modern Railways. The Northern Hub. Lets start with manchester-liverpool electrification. no trains for it because the DfT mucked up procuring the new Thameslink trains and they are now late. so the the class 319’s will not be available for manc-liv. so nice shiny new wires and no trains.
            First TransPennine were not allowed to renew the leases on their class 170’s (DfT diktat) so they are going to Chiltern for Oxford-Marylebone. OK FTP have the new electrics for the Scottish service, but they will struggle with their depleted DMU fleet. DfT getting it wrong again.
            FTP’s other trains (Class 185) lease ends soon. FTP may get a franchise extension as the franchise programme is running late (DfT muck up again) but they have to negotiate lease extensions for their trains for the franchise extension. but Scotrail are looking to improve their train fleet so may trump transpennine with a nice long lease.
            The Northern Hub wont work without trains. but the useless DfT has mucked it up.
            maybe the DfT should stop mucking around with HS2 and concentrate on getting the railway we have right. or better still abolish the useless department and let railwaymen run the railway -they are people who know what they are doing rather than the useless DfT.
            and while we are at it, Intercity demand is flatlining. the growth is in commuting into the major cities. Must be another nail in the coffin for an unwanted vanity HS2 project.

        • andagain

          Mrs Thatcher left office twenty-four years ago. That is more than twice as long as she was in No.10! Governments before and since took their own decisions about centralisation and decentralisation. Not every decision about this country was taken by Mrs Thatcher.

          FWIW, I gather the coalition has decentralised some power to the cities.

          • Tom Tom

            She built the system. the rest simply operated it

        • Colonel Mustard

          I didn’t mention Thatcher at all in my comment.

          Blair came to power in 1997 with a powerful majority and a healthy economy. “A new day has dawned has it not” he said. Then 13 years of New Labour government. THREE terms.

          Well, New Labour “reformed” plenty of stuff so for you to regurgitate Thatcher is lame, lame, lame.

        • Alexandrovich

          …and you forgot to mention Lady Thatcher’s divisive policies that caused Elizabeth Gaskell to write North and South.

          • Tom Tom

            You really think so ?

      • Drabble

        Surprise surprise
        Leafy constituencies have higher income, a population with more qualifications and receive more benefits than the grey brownfield industrial wastelands.
        At least Hestletine had a stab at correcting this
        What of Osborne

        • Tom Tom

          as Thatcher needed a Willie ?

      • Tom Tom

        Blair had no interest in the North but in Southern seats and US bribes…..Business Rates were nationalised by Margaret thatcher, local authorities collect them for the Treasury……German towns are funded by Gewerbesteuer – an impost on companies paid locally

        • Colonel Mustard

          “Blair had no interest in the North but in Southern seats and US bribes…..”

          That absolves hm and his regime?

          • telemachus

            From what?
            The crowning achievement of Tony Blair was the deliverance from the years of us and ours
            Budget on budget directed at us and ours since 1910
            Now we ache for a universal budget such as will be delivered by the Charismatic one
            If we needed another Blair to facilitate this so be it
            We have in fact one better as leader
            A man of integrity and true grit

            • Alexsandr

              finished your GCSE economics homework yet, sonny?

              • telemachus

                I learned all I need to know reading Beyond the Crash

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Which explains your ignorance.

                  ” . . . according to Brown (in Beyond the Crash), it was all the fault of the banks. They lent money on high-risk ventures and didn’t tell Brown what they were doing. And that’s it; the defence rests its case. 300 pages of charmless, densely-written verbiage can be distilled into three words: ‘not me, guv!’

                  “Brown doesn’t mention, of course, that it was his job to find out what the banks were doing. But then again he doesn’t mention a lot of things. For example, here are some of the things that Brown DOESN’T think caused the UK economy to come within 48 hours (as he claims at one point) of collapse: running a deficit every year from 2002; a reliance on the City to pay almost all the country’s bills; incentive-destroying taxation; the creation of a welfare-dependent client state; the destruction of private sector pensions; his decision to replace a banking regulatory system that had worked for 300 years with his own ‘light touch’ version that failed immediately; 13 years of treating the UK economy as a short-term way of buying Labour votes with pork-barrel spending (particularly in Scotland and Wales) rather than as the long-term engine for national success.

                  “‘Beyond the Crash’ is partisan and self-serving – a cheap, dishonest little book written by a cheap, dishonest little man. At least in their memoirs Major, Thatcher and Blair admit to making mistakes; furthermore, they all recognise how the Law of Unintended Consequences acted on their Premierships. But not Brown. Not even once. The only version of events he wants us to believe is the one in which he was right and everybody else was wrong, every time. It was all the iceberg’s fault for crashing into the Titanic; the Captain says so himself.”

                • telemachus

                  . . . according to Brown (in Beyond the Crash), it was all the fault of the banks. They lent money on high-risk ventures and didn’t tell Brown what they were doing
                  And Osborne has failed to break up those banks

                • Hexhamgeezer

                  Yes -they both failed big time. Both liars both spineless both incapable of turning the country round both hidebound deadbeats happy to argue about a tiny patch of the playground while they turn their backs on the rest of us.

                • telemachus

                  You are wrong
                  Brown not only turned the country round after Lehman but saved the World’s banks
                  I agree Osborne should not have choked off the recovery by axing capital investment on accession

                • Colonel Mustard

                  “The President of Iceland has launched an extraordinary verbal attack on Gordon Brown on the fringes of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the country’s longest-serving president, said that his country would “never forget” its treatment during the financial crisis at the hands of the former British prime minister. During the financial crisis, following the collapse of Icelandic bank Icesave and Iceland’s refusal to refund UK deposits, Britain took the rare step of imposing financial sanctions on the country. Mr Grimsson said “The Gordon Brown government decided, to its eternal shame, to put the Icelandic government on a list of terrorist states and terrorist phenomena. We were there together with al Qaeda and the Taliban on that list. We have not forgotten that in Iceland.”

                  Brown, synonymous with pure malevolence and spite.

                • telemachus

                  Thankyou for another example of how Gordon saved our citizens from the consequences of a foreign banking debacle


                  A Treasury spokesman said the government did not consider Iceland or its banks as terror regimes.

                  He told BBC News: “The government froze the assets of Landsbanki in the UK as a precautionary measure to ensure UK creditors are treated fairly.

                  “The order was made under a power contained in the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, however it was not taken on the basis of the anti-terrorism provisions in the Act.


                • Colonel Mustard

                  The point was, o dissembling and lying one, that you asserted that Broon had saved “the World’s banks”. Well, he didn’t save Iceland’s so you were WRONG.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Again you are dissembling to gain political advantage but by doing so losing all credibility. This seems to be a trait of your party, that need to lie when it might be counter-productive.

                  Why, just this week the Spectator reminds us via Kinnochio of just what it is that motivates Labour beyond anything else:-

                  “Because I want to see the Tories beaten” (said Kinnochio) and because I am willing to use any weapon to beat them with, I am against EEC entry on these terms and at this time”.

                  Which makes his current wallowing in the Euro grandee trough an even more delicious example of that ‘low cunning’ and essential dishonesty that permeates your party. But I digress, as for Kinnochio so to Brown, a malevolent man whose entire raison d’etre was to discomfort the Tories whatever the price to be paid by his country. An ideology of hatred which we can still see plain in every Labour tribal troll’s “comments” here. Ironic that this party of hatred, this party of lies should impose the nonsense of ‘hate speech’ on the British people. But there lies the Marcusean deceit and the reason that no communist regime has ever existed in a true multi-party state. Despite your boasts of diversity you believe that no-one should be permitted to disagree with you, really.

                  And there is a word for that.

                • saffrin

                  Still trying to claim Brown some good?
                  Brown was and still is a moron. Bailed out the banks without one single guarantee.
                  Where is the interest payments on my savings?
                  Why am I forced to support the banking industry?
                  What happened to my right to be paid in cash?
                  When are you treasonouse scum going to understand you have betrayd the labour movement?

                • Colonel Mustard

                  “Now I have not got very far with this great work of self justification yet, but am moved, yes deeply moved, by the following contained in the early pages by way of disclaimer:

                  “I am neither a finance expert nor a trained economist but fear of making technical mistakes (of which, I am sure, this book is full) should not silence us altogether when the task before us is so urgent.”

                  “So moved am I that a letter will soon be on the way to one Brown, G, Saviour of the World, asking why a similar disclaimer was not attached to all his oh so wise policy statements, initiatives and budgets when Chancellor.

                  “This man disgusts me. How a socially inept and charmless career political historian with no training in finance nor economics (yet like many dangerous hubris filled idiots everywhere unfraid of the dire consequnces of making technical mistakes with an entire economy) is vaulted into No.11 and then No.10 has to rank amongst the great political and economic disasters of our time”

                • Colonel Mustard

                  “In a nutshell the book goes …, I saved the World / I know how to put the World right / The crisis was nothing to do with me / The whole World is in the same boat / Blame everything on the Bankers.

                  The author gives no analysis of his role in replacing the previous City regulation bodies with a ‘box ticking’ Super Regulator (the FSA) and their role in this mess.

                  No mention the UK’s over reliance on the tax revenues generated by the City.

                  No justification as to why he ignored the warnings ‘that the bubble will burst at some point’ which began years before the Crash.

                  No account as to why the UK Government consistently overspent before the Crash.

                  No analysis of why some other countries financial systems are not in the same mess as ours.

                  In short this book is an exercise in spin.”

                • telemachus

                  As you say
                  In a nutshell the book goes …, I saved the World / I know how to put the World right / The crisis was nothing to do with me / The whole World is in the same boat / Blame everything on the Bankers.
                  I will have you as a believer

                • Colonel Mustard

                  You will have me as a believer if you dissemble, misrepresent the entirety of what I posted and lie, as usual. That says more about you and your admiration for ‘low cunning’ than anything I might believe.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  “It’s quite clear that the country has paid a high price for the grandiose delusions of Gordon Brown. Whether delaying welfare reform, jacking up taxes with precious little to show for it, reducing the UK’s competitiveness, increasing spending in huge (Labour voting) swathes of the country to Soviet levels or crushing incentives to create the wealth we need to both close the defecit and pay down the £1 in every £4 spent that we currently borrow, this deranged, abusive, out-of-control lunatic has his hands all over the crime scene.

                  Having failed the first test of democracy he has faced outside of his constituency, one might expect Gordon Brown to have spent his time reflecting on his ‘contribution’ to the UK. Or perhaps make amends by devoting his time to serving his constituents. Not a bit of it. At the date of publication, the poor deluded folk of Kircaldy and Cowdenbeath have been represented in parliament for a mere handful of the 200 odd days for which their MP has been paid. Instead, Gordon Brown has devoted his time to knocking off this 300-page exercise in personal exculpation.”

                • telemachus

                  It is very clear that you are no Supertzar.

                  I took a slightly different view


                  Gordon’s book gives a clever insight into the best ways to get the world economy growing. His love of humanity also shines throughout this book in that he wants a better world for everybody.
                  He explains the main causes of the crash with clarity and then sets out his own ideas about not letting it happen (or how to prevent it happening again). He analyses the key factors that will help economic growth and also that morality must play a part behind this if we want to have growth that is both sustainable and based on sound principles.
                  Its a shame a mind like Gordon Brown’s is playing less of a role in world politics because his concern for the well being of all citizens of the world is rare. Although his love for the UK is paramount to his plans for economic stability he writes about it in a way that global cooperation is a big hurdle that needs to be reckoned with and that through this we can have globalisation to benefit everybody.
                  I am sad that Cameron denied him leadership of the World Bank

                • Colonel Mustard

                  You see, after your first comment which revealed the inherent dishonesty of your position anything you now write, even if it wasn’t just shallow hagiography of the “Brown good, bankers bad” type, is incredible. Not to be believed. Twisting what other people articulate and misrepresenting it in such a cynical but obvious way is not conducive to honesty.

                  The psychological defect you labour with (pun intended) reveals a peculiar need to coerce a conformity to your singular view of the world. That is why when I quote a highly critical review of Brown’s dreadful book you feel compelled to twist reality into fantasy to pretend that I am actually agreeing with your view. I have always thought from your comments that you are not very bright and that you believe that something must be true if you repeat it often enough, but I am undecided as to where your limited intelligence ends and your psychosis begins.

            • Colonel Mustard
    • Kitty MLB

      I see you have all your other ‘ identities’ agreeing with you Telemachus.
      Those boarded up shops have been that way since Labour benighted
      our politics..Blair and Brown were too busy wining and dining their
      wealthy friends in London and loathed the North as Brown proved
      when he insulted that Northern woman before the last election.

  • El_Sid

    A regional approach to employers’ NI would also encourage employment away from the M25.

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