Colors: Purple Color

Business leaders in Greater Birmingham have hailed another huge step forward for the HS2 project after the award of £6.6bn worth of contracts was announced.

Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling today confirmed the contract awards that will create up to 16,000 jobs.

It means work on Phase One of the HS2 route, from London to Birmingham, will begin on schedule.

UK companies Carillion, Costain and Balfour Beatty are among the consortia who will build tunnels, bridges and embankments on the first stretch of the new high speed rail line.

In addition, the Phase Two routes to Manchester and Leeds are set to be announced later today, placing Birmingham at the heart of the national HS2 network.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner said: ““It’s great to see the main works civil contracts being awarded for Phase One of the project.

“Not only will construction of the project start on time, it will also create a raft of new jobs and supply chain opportunities for our local firms.

“We also welcome the news that the final routes for the Leeds and Manchester branches are due to be announced today.

“It means that Phase Two of the project will embed Birmingham at the heart of a modern and innovative transport network which will help rebalance the national economy and bring greater prosperity to the region as a whole.

“On a wider point, the news will only add to the air of confidence that we are seeing in the region at the moment. We will be analysing this and other key trends at our Q2 Quarterly Business Report launch event on 18 July, focusing on investment in Greater Birmingham.”


New research released today reveals that 78% of those aware of the infamous Japanese knotweed would be put off buying a property if they discovered the weed was present in the garden. Reasons for this included the concern that it cannot always be removed (69%) or that it would be too costly (56%) or time consuming to do so (57%) 

The survey, carried out by YouGov and Japanese knotweed removal specialist Environet UK, suggests whilst many are aware of the weed, there is a high level of myth and misinformation around the threat posed by Japanese knotweed and the options available to homeowners who discover it on their land.  

Japanese knotweed was first introduced into the UK from Japan in the 1850s as an ornamental plant, but it is now number one on the Environment Agency’s list of the UK’s most invasive plant species, described as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”. Growing up to 3 metres in height, it spreads rapidly and can push up through asphalt, cracks in concrete, driveways, cavity walls and drains in its quest for light and water. 

Despite only 4% of those aware of the weed having had Japanese knotweed growing on their propertyawareness of the threat is high, with 75% of Brits knowing about it. This awareness is particularly high in areas where the spread of the weed has been most prolific according to Environet’s own records of treatment, such as Wales, where 95% of respondents are aware of it, and in the south of England (80%). 

Those aware of the plant are also largely oblivious to their legal obligations to deal with Japanese knotweed if it is discovered on their land. Only around half (49%) know that a homeowner is legally responsible for preventing it from spreading from their propertyand just around one in five (21%) are aware that they could receive an ASBO if knotweed on their land is allowed to spread to their neighbour’s garden. 

In fact, knotweed can now be completely removed within a matter of days, at any time of the year, using a digging out method that sifts the earth to remove all viable rhizome roots from the infected soil. Once the problem has been swiftly tackled and an insurance backed guarantee has been secured, there are no difficulties in obtaining mortgage finance and property sales can proceed unhindered. For worried homebuyers, a professional indemnity insurance policy is now available, enabling them to protect themselves from the risk of Japanese knotweed from as little as £67Despite this fact, only 3% of those aware of the weed said they would not be at all deterred from buying an affected property. 

Nic Seal, MD and Founder of Environet comments: “Homeowners are right to be concerned about the threat posed by Japanese knotweed. Attempting to deal with it by cutting it down repeatedly, burning it, burying it or using common weed killers simply won’t work as the plant can lie dormant beneath the ground, only to strike again when people least expect it. 

Yet for those wishing to buy or sell property, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Japanese knotweed can be dealt with once and for all, within a matter of days from discovery, so there is hope for buyers who may have otherwise walked away from their dream home.” 

Chartered Surveyor Philip Santo FRICS, Director at Philip Santo & Co, added: “RICS shares concerns that many people believe Japanese Knotweed poses a much greater risk than it really does. Since RICS issued guidance in 2012 the situation for buyers and sellers has greatly improved. For most affected properties there is now access to mortgage finance once an approved Japanese Knotweed Management Plan is in place. DIY remedies can make matters worse and should not be attempted.” 

The 23rd Lanzhou Investment and Trade Fair's Belt and Road Initiative as one major theme, the local fair becomes more global thanks to a string of B&R economic and trade exchange activities.

This year’s Lanzhou fair increased exchanges with countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in addition to those related with the Silk Road Economic Belt. The fair invited Nepal and Malaysia as guests of honor for the first time in its history, according to Zhang Zhengfeng, deputy secretary with Gansu Provincial Government and vice executive director of the organizing committee of the Lanzhou fair.

The Lanzhou fair attracted representatives from 36 countries and several international organizations, with 27 foreign ministerial officials and ambassadors attending the event. A total of about 32,000 people at home and abroad registered for the event.

The number of foreign guests set a record high this year, up over 30 percent year on year, making the local fair a more global event, Zhang added.

Gansu Province selected 206 major investment projects with investment volume totaling 211.6 billion yuan before the fair opened. Many of these projects were signed during the fair, with 12 percent, 30 percent and 58 percent of them being in the agriculture sector, industrial sector and tertiary sector respectively. A batch of major investment projects were signed at the closing ceremony on Monday afternoon, covering sectors in equipment manufacturing, Chinese traditional medicine, non-ferrous metal and metallurgy, modern agriculture, general health care, ecological tourism and others.

A new UK company is taking on leading cola brands with Green Cola, a revolutionary drink that offers all the great cola taste that consumers expect, without all of the bad stuff. It contains: NO sugar, NO Aspartame, NO Phosphoric Acid, NO preservatives, NO calories.

The drink is sweetened with Stevia, a natural plant extract and caffeinated with green coffee beans, which is why it's called Green Cola.

Green Cola was conceived in Greece in 2013. It has been a massive success with the Greeks and millions of British holidaymakers who pushed for it to be brought to the UK. It is being launched here by Green Room Brands, a small business setting out to make a healthy difference.

CEO Paul Woodward says: "It took over two years to perfect our cola, with literally thousands of attempts and recipe tinkering. One-by-one, we took out ingredients like aspartame, phosphoric acid and the ordinary caffeine used by mainstream brands, until we were left with a healthier cola that doesn't compromise on taste.

"There is nothing else like Green Cola on the market. Most low calorie colas contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener that many consumers have growing concerns about. This is an untapped market set to take off on the back of the sugar tax next year and we see a long-term opportunity to drive sustainable growth."

A growing proportion of landlords in the UK are opting to use the services of a professional letting agents in order to assist with the management of their property portfolio.

New figures from the National Landlords’ Association (NLA) show 61 per cent of landlords currently work with a letting agents, up from 54 per cent in the final quarter of 2016.

It noted the significant increase of seven per cent is a break from the norm, following several years in which the quota of landlords using a letting agents has remained relatively stable. The body also found there has been a 10 per cent fall in the proportion of landlords who self-manage their property in the last year.

Allison Thompson, managing director at property specialist Leaders, says: “A rising number of landlords are relying on the expertise, knowledge and resources of professional letting agents, which proves the majority of agents are delivering a great service.

“A good letting agents will help landlords to achieve the maximum possible return on their investment by setting the optimum rents, minimising any void periods, letting only to quality tenants and ensuring an efficient response to any required repairs or maintenance works.

“Just as importantly, a quality letting agents will strive to help landlords overcome the latest challenges, such as the ever-changing legislation they must comply with, the tax regulations that have recently come into effect and the uncertainties of Brexit. Professional guidance has never been so vital.

“Landlords seeking the best return while relieving themselves of many of the responsibilities of letting a property are advised to use a letting agents. However, as with any industry, it is important to work only with an experienced, reputable and trustworthy company, so landlords should choose their agents carefully.”

A number of regional variations were clear within the NLA’s results, with landlords in the north-east the most likely of any in England to use a letting agents.

Greater London, the south-west and Wales also witnessed sharp increases in the number of landlords seeking professional help with their property.

Businesses throughout the Black Country have reported a rise in domestic sales for a second consecutive quarter according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce. Of the businesses that took part in the Q2 2017 Quarterly Economic Survey (QES), 49% reported an increase in domestic sales, amounting to a rise of 7% on the previous quarter. Furthermore, 42% of survey respondents indicated a rise in domestic orders, thereby highlighting continued prospects for future growth.

In addition, this growth in both domestic sales and orders has seen a rise in confidence amongst the region’s business community, with 70% of those having taken part in the survey anticipating that their turnover will increase over the course of the next 12 months.

Corin Crane, Chief Executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, commented: "Uncertainty has continued to dominate the political landscape in recent months, yet despite this businesses across the Black Country have remained steadfast in their ability to thrive under challenging conditions. The fact that almost half of businesses surveyed within the region have seen a rise in sales and orders is testament to their tenacity and great news for the economic growth of the local area.

“With the General Election having taken place and Brexit negotiations now underway, it is now important to focus on harnessing a stable environment that is conducive to the growth and development of the local business community. Therefore, over the coming months we will be working closely with our colleagues at the British Chambers of Commerce and throughout the national Chamber network to ensure that there is clarity coming from Government in relation to Brexit and the impact that will have on businesses moving forwards.”

The Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) is a survey that is conducted each quarter, the results of which contribute towards and are compiled by the British Chambers of Commerce to form one of the largest independent economic surveys of businesses in the UK.

Home owners should book in their builder at least four months before their project begins or risk working with a cowboy, new research from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has revealed.

The research also shows that an alarming number of consumers don’t ask their builders for essentials such as a contract or references when embarking upon a major piece of building work.

Key statistics from the research show:

  • More than 40% of builders need at least four months’ notice from consumers who want to hire their firm;
  • 90% of builders say that the majority of home owners do not ask for a written contract;
  • 80% of builders report that most consumers do not ask for an agreed payment schedule;
  • Fewer than 10% of builders say that clients normally request to see vital insurance policies such as public liability or employer’s liability insurance
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “If a builder is free to start work tomorrow, alarm bells should ring. Demand for building work is incredibly high at the moment and it should be no surprise that almost one in two builders need to be contacted at least four months in advance of when a client is looking to start a home improvement project. The workloads of builders have been rising steadily over the past two years and there’s no shortage of work. That’s why we’re urging home owners who are keen to crack on with their build or renovation projects to start getting in touch with prospective builders as soon as possible. Otherwise, they risk disappointment delaying their projects or worse still, working with a dodgy builder. So many building horror stories start with a client approaching a builder who’s free to start work sooner than the more professional builder who is really busy.”

Berry concluded: “There are also indications that home owners are leaving themselves vulnerable to problems in terms of how they approach their building work. The vast majority of builders say that most clients fail to ask for references and even fewer ask for a written contract on their work. There is a similar trend when it comes to asking for critical things like an agreed payment schedule and key warranties on work, as well as checking whether the builder has any external accreditation or recognition from professional trade association like the FMB. These protections really are essential to helping clients weed out the cowboys and mitigate against any issues that could crop up during the build. A quality builder will insist on these things and if they don’t, consumers ought to question why.”

Black Country business’ is gearing up for a new and dynamic two-week Festival that will head up the annual business calendar from 2018.

The inaugural Black Country Business Festival, will take place from 23rd April to 4th May 2018.

It is set to bring the region’s business scene to life through a packed fortnight of events - all run by local organisations.

More than 100 business leaders joined the Black Country Chamber of Commerce – the driving force behind the Festival, at a prestigious launch this morning (Friday 30th June) at the Light House in Wolverhampton. They heard how the Business Festival will benefit Black Country businesses and showcase the region’s outstanding innovation, culture and commerce to ultimately attract investment from outside the Black Country.

Adrian Wright, president of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce said, “The Business Festival will provide a stage for the Black Country to showcase the unparalleled opportunity that our economy has to offer. This is a growing region that has seen massive investment. New industries have established themselves and are growing and thriving because of this commitment to regeneration.

“We now need Black Country businesses – large or small, who share the same desire to see the region reach its full thriving commercial potential to get behind the Festival and get involved.”

The Business Festival is open to everyone and there are many ways to get involved - from becoming an event partner or hosting an event to offering venue space or attending one, two or several of the events in the programme.

Any business can apply to run an event – which can take any shape from a seminar or workshop through to a trade show or major conference.

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce said, “The Business Festival will showcase the colourful range of businesses that proudly make up the Black Country.

“The events that take place will reflect the strengths of the Black Country’s sectorial business and economic mix. So, the programme will be structured to reflect the breadth of new and existing, traditional industries with a focus on key sectors that have been identified as key areas for growth.

“Every event will have one thing in common: it is being organised to ultimately benefit the people and businesses in the Black Country, to help them grow and ultimately have a positive impact on our local economy.

“There will be hundreds of opportunities for the local business community to connect, share best practice and collaborate for the benefit of the region and for their own business.”

A lack of accountability and investment in cyber-security measures has been blamed for the recent Wannacry virus that hit NHS IT systems last month, a report released today by The Chartered Institute for IT has found.

The report comes following a similar, but more limited attack that hit UK based companies.

Whilst doing the best with the limited resources available, the report suggests some hospital IT teams lacked access to trained, registered and accountable cyber-security professionals with the power to assure hospital Boards that computer systems were fit for purpose.

The healthcare sector has struggled to keep pace with cyber-security best practice and with a systemic lack of investment, ultimately, the Wannacryy attack was an, ‘inevitability’, David Evans, Director of Community & Policy at The Chartered Institute for IT says.

Mr Evans continued: “Patients should be able to trust that hospital computer systems are as solid as the first-class doctors and nurses that make our NHS the envy of the world.

“Unfortunately, without the necessary IT professionals, proper investment and training the damage caused by the Wannacry ransomware virus was an inevitability, but with the roadmap we are releasing today, will make it less likely that such an attack will have the same impact in the future.”

The Chartered Institute of IT has joined forces with the Patient’s Association, the Royal College of Nursing, BT and Microsoft to produce a blueprint that outlines steps NHS trusts should take to avoid another crippling cyber-attack. Top of the list is ensuring there are clearly laid out standards for accrediting relevant IT professionals. NHS board are being urged to ensure they understand their responsibilities, and how to make use of registered cyber security experts. And the number of properly qualified and registered IT professionals needs to be increased.

Almost 50 NHS Trusts were hit last month by the Wannacry cyber-attack. It meant computers were encrypted and unusable in many areas of the health service, with hackers threatening that valuable files would be lost forever unless a ransom was paid. It led to operations and appointments being cancelled, and patients were still being diverted from accident and emergency departments six days later.

Gemalto, the world leader in digital security, is launching the Gemalto Assurance Hub, a groundbreaking approach to fraud prevention in online banking. Powered by machine learning, it analyses the profile and the behavior of customers in real time. The platform only activates additional authentication measures when required, providing a smooth user experience.

Banks are delivering a growing number of digital services. In doing so, they are also subject to more sophisticated cyberattacks. Banks need to distinguish genuine users from potentially fraudulent ones, thereby giving legitimate customers a hassle-free service and blocking unauthorized users.  Financial institutions must also comply with the latest banking regulations such as PSD2 or FFIEC*.

Gemalto Assurance Hub is based on big data; processing millions of transactions built from thousands of attributes (such as device profiling, location, user behavior, biometric data  or keypad style) to analyze  behavior  in real time  and  trigger appropriate authentication checks when needed. For example, if someone makes a high-value transfer from an unusual location, then additional biometric authentication will be requested to validate the transaction, such as fingerprint or facial recognition. Users benefit from non-intrusive security within a trusted environment.

“A recent Gemalto study showed that 44% of consumers would leave their bank in the event of a security breach, and 38% would switch to a competitor offering a better service. At the same time, consumers suffer from both unjustified rejection and excessive authentication steps when banking online or on mobile,” said Bertrand Knopf, Executive Vice President Banking and Payment from Gemalto “The challenge is to minimize and simplify security procedures, without compromising trust in the digital banking domain. This is what the Gemalto Assurance Hub does so easily.”

Black Country Chamber of Commerce are celebrating BCRS Business Loans as our Member of the Week after the not-for-profit lender has received national recognition for the way in which it leads, manages and supports its people.

BCRS Business Loans, which supports businesses across the West Midlands with access to finance, has been accredited as an Investor in People after surpassing the standard for better people management set out by the body.

Sarah Moorhouse, Operations Director of BCRS Business Loans who oversaw the process, said: “We are delighted to have received Silver accreditation as an Investor in People, especially as it’s the first time BCRS has ever been through the process.

“We have worked hard to implement a new employee benefits programme, focusing on both personal and professional development, and an improved employee review system in recent years.

“Aside from operating to have a positive impact on local businesses and the regional economy, we understand the importance of supporting the very people that make it happen – our employees.”

Sarah further commented: “Being a member of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce ensures that we maintain strong links with the local business community, which is vital for us as a business loan provider.

“In particular, since joining The Platinum Group Service Sector we have been able to form strong working relationships with like-minded businesses in the local area, sharing best practice that will help to support our future ambitions for growth.”

With a range of dedicated Business Loan Funds available that provide loans from £10,000 to £150,000, BCRS Business Loans offer support for viable small and medium sized businesses that are struggling to access finance from traditional lenders. Over the course of their 15 year history, businesses throughout the region have been able to generate an extra £300 million for the local economy as a direct result of funding from the prominent regional business lender.

Their sole purpose is to provide finance to promote the growth and prosperity of local businesses. A loan from BCRS Business Loans can be used for a wide range of projects, including purchasing equipment, employing additional people, investing in marketing, working capital requirements and much more.

Black Country Chamber of Commerce wants to support businesses to grow and succeed, and Member of the Week is an initiative to celebrate the great work that our members are doing and to highlight the success stories in the local area.

Canada’s Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, is pleased to chair the 2017 Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting (CFMM) in Washington, D.C., this October.

“I am proud that Canada has been asked to chair this meeting and to share our approach of creating the kind of economic growth that works to strengthen the middle class,” said Minister Morneau. “Given this time of rapid global change, it is important that all countries work together to address our shared challenges and seize new opportunities. Above all, it is critical that the benefits of the growth we create in Canada and around the world are widely shared.

"As the Commonwealth’s third largest economy and member of the G7 and G20, Canada is committed to contributing to global growth prospects that will lead to greater fairness and prosperity for Canadians and people around the world. The Government of Canada’s approach to creating long-term growth that works for the middle class and those working hard to join it has received international recognition and complements the theme of this year’s CFMM, which is Advancing Jobs and Resilience through Innovation."

The CFMM will bring together 52 Commonwealth countries to discuss common economic challenges and opportunities.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said, “This will be my second Finance Ministers Meeting and I’m always struck by not only how diverse our Commonwealth family is, but by the potential that exists given the dynamic experience and skills that our countries bring to the table.

“We represent a third of the world across six regions. We have small and vulnerable states, developed and developing states, and five of the countries making up the Group of 20 (G20), namely Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the UK. When the Commonwealth comes together, it is incredible to witness what we can achieve in terms of collegiate dialogue and cooperation in creating greater prosperity for all of our citizens.”

The CFMM will take place on the margins of the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group, October 13-15, 2017.

The UK is on the cusp of a large-scale wealth transfer and, according to new research released by FTSE 100 wealth manager, St. James’s Place, it could make a significant contribution to UK GDP.

There is an estimated £6.6 trillion of wealth held by those aged 55 years and over in the UK, of which the research suggests some £2.8 trillion could be available for transfer over the next 30 years.

The study, commissioned by St. James’s Place in conjunction with Capital Economics, showed that this age group intend to make nearly a third (32%) of their total wealth – excluding property – available for transfer, meaning approximately £920 billion will be gifted to family members over the next three decades.

This generosity will not just help those receiving it, but will make a powerful contribution to the economy in the years ahead.  For every £1 transferred, an additional £1.65 will be added to the UK economy.

Over the next 30 years, wealth transfer will therefore potentially add £677 billion to the economy, or 1.2% of UK GDP each year – enough to fund the purchase of around 3.4 million homes for first time buyers, provide 21.2 million deposits, or pay for 24 million students’ tuition fees.

Iain Rayner, Joint Chief Operating Officer at St. James’s Place, said:

“The economic contribution made by older people in the UK transferring wealth to the younger generations is huge – for every £1 transferred, £1.65 is generated for the UK economy.  On average, 55 to 85 year olds transfer £40,000 to their children, grandchildren and family members, mainly for housing, university education or other major purchases.  These are serious sums of money and, collectively, represent a vast wave of wealth that our research shows is about to be transferred.  This will have a significant impact on the finances of the recipients and the wider economy as this wealth floods into the market.

“Families need to think about how and when they intend to make transfers to maximise the impact and achieve the most beneficial tax treatment – and lucky recipients really need to think about how and when to best deploy these gifts to change their lives.”

The findings from the St. James’s Place commissioned research suggest that the scale of wealth transfer in the UK is set to grow, with the primary reason for transfers aimed as supporting family members with a property purchase:

  • 31% of people aged 55 to 85 with £50,000 or more in assets have already transferred money to their children (28%), grandchildren (9%) or both – transferring an average of £40,000;
  • Looking to the future, 61% of over 55s say they will transfer something in their lifetime; 53% to their children; 29% to grandchildren;
  • Only a third (36%) say they won’t transfer any money in the future during their lifetime.
  • On average, individuals give to their family between the ages of 65-70;
  • Almost two-thirds who had made a transfer (64%) had done so to help with a property purchase; in other cases, money was used for other major purchases (25%); to fund university education (28%); or for general financial needs (34%).
Very few survey respondents over the age of 55 with £50,000 or more of investable assets say they are concerned about their money running out.  Of the roughly one-third (36%) who say they won’t be transferring their wealth in their lifetime, just 13% say it’s because they feel they don’t have enough. Instead, the most common reasons given are that they simply wish to use their wealth to enjoy old age (58%) or, similarly, to maintain their lifestyle (48%).

Birmingham’s business community has announced its full backing for the city’s bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The bid was confirmed when the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Steering Group formally announced the bid and revealed that “an enhanced and refurbished Alexander Stadium” will be pivotal to the Games.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), is a member of the Steering Group, and he said: “Today’s announcement represents a huge opportunity for the Greater Birmingham region and has the full backing of the region’s business community.

“It will once again put Birmingham on a global stage and at the same time create job opportunities in the build-up as well in the work that will be required on some of the sports infrastructure in the city.

“We greatly look forward to working with the business community in the city to promote Birmingham’s bid and if successful to ensure we make the very best of the Games. Every aspect of business in the city, from the shops and theatre to the bars and restaurants will benefit.”

As well as the GBCC, Birmingham’s bid has the full support of: Birmingham City Council; three regional local enterprise partnerships: Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP; Black Country LEP; Coventry and Warwickshire LEP; the West Midlands Combined Authority; the West Midlands Growth Company; and the newly elected Mayor of West Midlands, Andy Street.

In a statement, the group said: “Birmingham can demonstrate the very best of Global Britain to the world with this bid, which showcases its strengths of youth and diversity alongside its world class reputation for sport and culture.

“Birmingham’s decision to bid has been measured and purposeful, based on a feasibility study that explored both how the Games would be delivered and why it would be beneficial for the city and the wider region. Ninety-five percent of proposed competitive venues are already in place.

“With a strong cultural programme running in parallel with sport, Birmingham is ready to extend the hand of friendship, competition and understanding to the 71 competing nations.

Sitting at the heart of the UK, and standing for the diversity of the Commonwealth, Birmingham is well positioned to attract people to the Games and to ensure that the benefits of hosting extend from the city and region, to the UK and the Commonwealth.”

Unique to England and Wales, there are two different forms of legal ownership: freehold and leasehold.  Freehold remains the majority type of ownership in the UK however with the large number of new build developments and conversions being sold, leasehold ownership is becoming more common place, particularly in places like London where 95% of new properties sold 2016 were classified as leasehold.

Unlike Freehold which is the outright ownership of a property and the land it stands on, leasehold ownership is buying the temporary right to use the property – which is yours for the duration of the lease.

Dan Lowery, Director of Romans Surveyors explains further: “The leasehold homeowner has a lease with the landlord (Freeholder) which states how many years they own the property and what restrictions may be imposed on how they live in the property such as whether pets are allowed or whether they can make substantial alterations.”

When the lease expires, the property can return to the landlord however in reality most people never actually get to the end of the lease and renew it long before then.

“The length of a lease can affect the value of a property typically the shorter the lease, the lower the asking price.  On the whole, when the lease gets past 90 years, it is usually a good time to start looking into extending it.  Once the term falls below 80 years the costs to extend can increase significantly, and if selling is part of your plan, this can affect the asking price and whether a buyer can get a mortgage on the property or not – which limits potential buyers.

New figures show that it was a record April for the number of overseas visits to the UK and spend.

VisitBritain figures show that 3.7 million visits were made to the UK in April this year, up 19% compared to the same month last year and the highest April since records began. Overseas visitors spent a record £2 billion in April, 20% up on the same month last year.

Today’s figures come on the back of a record first-quarter for inbound visits to the UK and spend.

VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said:

“Tourism is one of Britain’s most valuable export industries and it is very encouraging to see this continued growth as we head into the peak summer season and beyond. We continue to drive home the message of value and welcome globally, particularly in our high spending markets China and the US and the valuable European market.”

Today’s figures bring the number of inbound visits to the UK for January to April this year to a record 11.8 million, 11% up on the same period in 2016 with visitors spending £6.2 billion, up 14% and also setting a new record.

Growth this year has been led from long-haul regions including North America with more than one million visits from January to April, up 16% compared to the same period last year.

There were a record 8.3 million visits from the EU from January to April this year, up 7% on 2016.

Strong growth has also been seen in holiday visits with a record 4.4 million visits from January to April this year, up 26% on the same period in 2016.

Latest flight booking data from ForwardKeys shows that bookings for international arrivals to the UK during the summer are currently tracking 12% ahead of the same period last year.

Tourism is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.