Brown ruled out 1980s-style enterprise zones, which used a bricks-and-mortar approach, claiming it would merely tempt businesses to move from one area to another with no net development gain.
Homestyle, the UK furniture retailer, was left reeling after it learned that it might have to pay an extra £23m in sales tax. Customs & Excise had called into question the amount it paid on product guarantees sold between December 1999 and April 2001. Homestyle had been paying just 5% on the portion of bills that it claimed covered the guarantee, but Customs officials argued it was due the full 17.5% rate. Homestyle chief executive Michael Rosenblatt said he would challenge the demand.