BDO Stoy Hayward predicts budget help for south-coast businesses

Kick-starting the ailing economy with a ‘de-coupling’ of the maximum Stamp Duty rate, currently at four per cent, and a corporation tax rate cut from 28 per cent to 25 per cent are just two measures BDO Stoy Hayward in Southampton believes the Chancellor could introduce in next week’s budget to help South Coast businesses survive the recession.

As a higher percentage of commercial property sales are taxed at the four per cent Stamp Duty Land Tax rate, the accountancy firm says this step could give the ailing commercial real estate market a much-welcomed boost. A reduction in corporation tax to 25 per cent (or lower) could restore tax competitiveness.

Alternatively, a short-term reduction in the employers’ rate of National Insurance could introduce a further – but temporary – fiscal stimulus to support employment levels. This step would boost the profitability of major employers and influence them to reduce redundancies as the recession in the real economy deepens.

The Chancellor could also comment on future VAT rates and indicate that this tax, which currently collects around £80 billion per annum, could be increased beyond the previous 17.5 per cent rate when the temporary reduction to 15 per cent expires in January. The UK’s 17.5 per cent VAT rate is towards the lower end of major European countries.

A clear explanation of HMRC’s position regarding UK taxation (particularly of businesses) and the UK’s European Union Treaty obligations (notable the “Freedom of Establishment” and “Freedom of Movement” Articles) is also called for.

“Now is the time for the Government to put economic priorities over political expediency,” commented Stuart Lisle, Tax Partner at Southampton’s BDO Stoy Hayward. “This will need to be a budget setting out a road map for Government finances of medium-term austerity for the long-term prosperity of south-coast businesses.”

Largest south coast office transaction in recent years – Former B&Q; Headquarters

National commercial property agents, Jones Lang LaSalle and CBRE have completed the largest office occupier transaction in the Southampton area since Carnival took possession of their new offices in the city centre 3 years ago.

Acting on behalf of LaSalle Investment Management, Jones Lang LaSalle has sold the circa 90,000 sq ft Portswood House on Hampshire Corporate Park in Chandlers Ford to Insurance company Ageas in partnership with Troika. Portswood House was formerly the headquarters of B&Q, who had occupied the premises since their construction in 1985. Following B&Q’s vacating the premises in September 2011 to move into their new purpose-built headquarters on the other side of Bournemouth Road, Jones Lang LaSalle have had interest in the premises from a number of parties, confirming this as one of the most popular business locations on the South Coast.

Andrew Miller, Associate Director of LaSalle Investment Management, commented: “We have considered a number of options for Portswood House, including redevelopment, but all involved some risk, considerable expenditure and time delay. A straight-forward sale to an occupier, was the best course of action to maximise value for our client”.

Nick Tutton Associate Director at CBRE who advised Ageas on the purchase commented “Following B&Q’s relocation last year, the availability of Portswood House gave Ageas the perfect opportunity to acquire a building suitable for future expansion close to their existing offices. The building will now undergo a comprehensive refurbishment program to provide a modern and quality office building for Ageas’s occupation”.

Hedge End offices let within days

If proof was needed that the Southampton and M27 corridor office lettings market is beginning to show signs of improvement then the announcement by Stonebridge Corporate Ltd’s of the opening of its new Southern Regional Office is a good start. Stirling House, St John’s Road, Hedge End was only on the market a few weeks through letting agents Keygrove Chartered Surveyors and Stonebridge took possession the day after the previous tenant vacated.

Established in 2005, Stonebridge Corporate Ltd is a privately owned independent insurance intermediary, specialising in the mid-corporate, property and construction sectors. The new Hedge End office will cover Southampton and the South Coast.

Andrew Archibald, Director of Keygrove Chartered Surveyors, commented “It is good to see a company on the expansion trail and I have never before collected the keys of an office from the departing tenant and given them to the new occupier on the same day! Both are encouraging signs.”

Stonebridge Corporate Managing Director Ben Burford commented. “We see the Southampton market as a major growth area and we are delighted to have secured the services of such a high profile figure as Adrian Beale as our Regional Director in this, the first of our planned regional centres.”

Guide to doing business in tough times

Business Link is offering your readers a free 24 page ‘Guide to doing business in tough times’. This booklet focuses on the measures which small and medium sized firms can take in response to the current economic downturn. The Guide offers practical suggestions in areas such as finance, planning, operations and customers.

The Guide offers tips and ideas for immediate action and recommends steps to take in the longer term. It also outlines further sources of information and online web tools available on the Business Link website.

Your readers can sign up to download the free ‘Guide to doing business in tough times’ at or phone 0845 600 9 006 to request a copy by post.

Deborah Wyatt, Business Link, explains, ‘Because we speak to hundreds of business owners and managers each week, we know that cash flow and finding new customers are top concerns. This short guide has been produced with every day business issues in mind and gives some really practical solutions which can be implemented quickly and more ideas to support the business in the longer term.’

Business owners can also book a free business review ‘Health Check’ with a local Business Link Adviser.

Business Link’s free business review will help business owners to assess opportunities and issues in the current market. The review will help you:

Ø Manage financial risk and protect cash flow

Ø Maximise sales opportunities (including opportunities to market your business free of charge –supplier matching service)

Ø Link you into networking opportunities

Business Breakfast Seminar – Uncertanties in the current market place

How are uncertainties in the current market place affecting your business?

Accountancy and investment management group Smith & Williamson is hosting a complimentary business breakfast briefing on associated themes in Southampton on Tuesday, May 22 from 7.30 am – 9 am.

Three experts from the firm’s South Coast office look at how the economy is shaping up, how business fraud is on the rise and how the government’s tax strategy affects you.

David Blenkarn, a restructuring and recovery services director, looks at issues in his field and Andrew Edmond, head of assurance and business services, gives pointers on how you can stop fraud happening to your company.