Glyn Powditch, CTO, was invited by Manchester Business School to their 2014 Budget Event held at Media City to give expert commentary on SEIS and the state of the UK High Street.
In attendance were academics, business leaders and journalists from the Financial Times and BBC. Whilst welcoming the announcement by George Osborne tha the SEIS was being made permanent, which has funded start-ups and early stage businesses to over £1bn since launch, Powditch also commented on what was missed, especially with regards to the budget’s impact on the north west.
“With the failure of the Portas Report and its resulting initiatives, we now have major vacancy rates in our towns and cities. Stockport tops the league of ghost towns with a vacancy rate of over 30%. Anyone who has visited ‘Old Stockport’ will realise that 30% is actually quite flattering. In some parts of the old town, entire streets are virtually empty, with charity shops and adult shops occasionally breaking the walls of empty units and boarded windows. Perhaps even more disturbingly, in ‘well-to-do’ Wilmslow which falls under Osborne’s constituency, six shops closed in January 2014. National Chain Jane Shilton was one of them, citing rent and rates totalling nearly £80,000 per year as the main reason. The High Street has been squeezed by suppliers as well as the internet, often providing a showroom for customers to try out products before they leave the store to order online from home at a lower price. I would have liked more measures to help the High Street, especially independents, as well as a further focus on some of the larger online only retailers, who are often paying negligible UK taxes.”
He concluded “High Streets are at the heart of our local communities. Even those dismissive of such notions as community must surely realise the likely impact on their house prices of derelict local towns.”