The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne called his speech yesterday "a Budget for Britain, the comeback country", with announcements around business rates, enterprise zones, pensions and infrastructure.
Daniel Hynd, investments director of Neptune Investments:
"There is a lot of financial pressures on new and small businesses, so a reduction in business rates would help relieve some of that pressure, and allow these businesses to grow. As a landlord to many small independent business tenants, we feel the move should help reduce void premises, but more needs to be done with business rates on the whole, to protect high streets and town centres from the ever growing threat of internet shopping."
Bill Chandler, legal director of Hill Dickinson:
"While it is great news for the region that Manchester is being allowed to keep the additional growth in business rates, that will come as little comfort to all those hard-pressed ratepayers who have to wait until next year's Budget before the government review of the business rates system launched this week will report its findings."
James Thompson, head of business rates at Deloitte Real Estate:
"The 10 authorities making up the Greater Manchester Combined Authority have a total rateable value of almost £2.75bn which would generate around ￡1.35bn – around 50% more than Wales.
"The benefits to Greater Manchester of control of this funding stream will depend on the success of Greater Manchester's economy and the level of autonomy allowed to the authority to manage business rates."
Conrad O'Neill, director of Canning O'Neill:
"Overall it's encouraging news for the region in terms of devolution and the funding of Local Government. Osborne really majors that growth forecast this time last year for 2015 stood at 2.3% but a year later it has been raised to 2.5% (but still below the actual growth in 2014 of 2.6%)."
"The announcement that Greater Manchester is going to keep 100% of the increase in business rates, is positive news for the area, but we wait to see the impact of the revaluation on specific properties – there may well be winners and losers. What we are really waiting to hear, however, is the outcome of the pledged review of the business rates system and, in particular, what, if anything, is going to be done about crippling full rates on empty offices."
Dr Mike Kelly, founder and chief executive of Manchester-based DataCentred:
"Infrastructure investment is crucial to creating a connected country but if the Chancellor wants to improve growth and economic standards outside London he must ensure the North is sufficiently digitally connected.
"The scale of innovation and the number of businesses which choose to operate outside the capital are growing every day but have been largely overlooked by developments in other digital hubs such as London and Cambridge. There is no reason why cities such as Manchester and Leeds should not be seen as the 'go-to' locations for innovative enterprise technology and the ability for Manchester to set business rates at a local level will enable the North West to attract more innovative and high growth tech companies."
David Lathwood, head of property consultant JLL in the North West:
"There's a strong economic rationale behind boosting connectivity between Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds. The fact that we still don't have an electrified railway on the transpennine route is a major source of frustration for businesses and a potential barrier to investment.
"The Chancellor knows this and is playing to those frustrations with the promise of a new transport strategy for the North, featuring plans for a new high speed rail connection across the Pennines.
"That's welcome news but, with any pre-election promises – especially those involving mega-projects of the scale of HS3 – there's a risk that they can remain pipe dreams."
Matt Crompton, joint managing director at Muse Developments:
"Not surprisingly, a generally positive pre-election budget.
"The ability for Manchester to re-invest 100% of any growth in Business Rates is a real positive step to further devolved spending. However, with a portfolio stretching across the north of England, I was hoping for a more positive commitment to improving the connectivity across the Northern Powerhouse."
Peter Vinden, managing director of The Vinden Partnership:
"Connecting some of the UK's major cities is one thing, but in order to get everyone on board, we need to see some meaningful activity that can encourage growth and investment in these areas that people can see.
"What we now need to focus on is producing quality training and deployment of the workforce to get these tracks on the ground and spur some more growth in the construction and infrastructure industries. It would also be encouraging to see some more attention paid to the smaller, but numerous, rail services and transport links throughout the regions that still require a considerable amount of TLC."
Simon Allport, North West senior partner at EY:
"All eyes will now look to the comprehensive interim report of Transport for the North, which follows-on from the One North report and will expand on earlier plans laid out for 'HS3'. The strategy outlined in the report could prove just as significant in creating a thriving combined Northern economy as the other announcements in the Chancellor's Budget."
Andrew McFarlane, director and head of North West at Colliers International:
"What's interesting from a planning perspective is the lexicon. The Coalition Government disbanded England's regions following the last election and yet the Chancellor's speech made clear and fresh references to them. This reflects the growing importance of city regions such as London, Manchester and Liverpool in supporting economic growth."
Melanie Leech, chief executive of British Property Federation:
"The Federation was an early proponent of housing zones and we are pleased to see their rollout and the Government's increased ambition to introduce them on brownfield sites.
"Spending cuts have meant that support for brownfield development all but disappeared during the recession. Housing zones are welcome recognition that we can deliver significant amounts of desperately-needed housing on brownfield land, but that this will often need both central Government support and clarity of purpose at local level."