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Land Securities annual pre-tax profit down 58 per cent

Strengthens asset management portfolio.

The British commercial property company Land Securities Group has reported a pre-tax profit of £515.7m for the fiscal year ended 31 March 2012, a decrease of 58 per cent compared to £1.23bn for the same period last year.

Basic earnings per share were 67.5p (2011: 162.3p), while valuation surplus was £190.9m (2011: £908.8m).

Revenue profit including share of joint ventures grew 9 per cent to £299.4m (2011: £274.7m).

The company’s rental values grew 1.2 per cent across total like-for-like portfolio since March 2011. Property disposals were £905.7m at an average of 4.3 per cent above last year valuation.

Since 2010, the company created 47,700 sq m of new space for Primark, the John Lewis Partnership and Sainsbury’s. Investment lettings in the year were £39.1m.

The group has on site at 111,180 sq m of development schemes in London, with a further 175,370 sq m of future developments with planning consents obtained or planning applications submitted. It also has on site at 102,200 sq m of development schemes in retail.

During the year the company sold 110 Cannon Street, EC4 and Arundel Great Court as well as residential apartments at Wellington House.

Group LTV ratio including share of joint ventures was 38 per cent (2011: 39 per cent). The group recommended increase in final dividend to 7.4p from 7.2p.

Robert Noel, chief executive of Land Securities, said:

We have a clear strategy allied to a clear plan based on a realistic outlook. Despite economic uncertainty impacting the second half of the year, we have maintained our focus, building on our strength and our proposition.

We have a deep knowledge of our core markets and an expert, focused team. The outlook remains uncertain but we will continue to use the competitive advantage offered by our financial resources to deliver on our plans and exploit opportunities as they arise.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.