For cricket devotees who couldn't resist the urge to check their phones in the middle of the night, or tune into the action from the Ashes at 4am, it has probably felt like a long and emotionally draining week.  It was also a big week for Chancellor Philip Hammond who attempted to put a positive spin on his latest Budget in the midst of some gloomy economic forecasts.  In a stark assessment of the UK's economic picture, the Institute of Fiscal Studies has stated that UK debt levels may not fall to pre-2008 levels for 50 years.  Mr Hammond was, of course, keen to focus attention instead on his package of Budget "giveaways", which included a pledge to deliver £44bn of capital funding, loans and guarantees to support the housing market and a headline-grabbing stamp duty cut for first time buyers.  The budget, however, was a mixture of "sweet" and "sour" for the property industry.  Whilst the stamp duty abolition was welcomed, the Chancellor's decision to scrap the exemption to capital gains tax for foreign commercial investors has met with a more "mixed" reaction.    

The Weekly attended an IPF seminar this week on the impact of Crossrail.  The much-anticipated Elizabeth Line will open next year carrying an estimated 200 million passengers a year and increasing Central London's rail capacity by 10%.  However, Crossrail 1 is more than just a rail project.  The £14.8 billion scheme has integrated major property developments over and around its Central London stations and the income from the Crossrail property development has formed part of the core funding strategy.  The "Crossrail effect" is also estimated to have created an additional £10.6 billion in commercial and residential property value.  With focus now shifting to the even more ambitious task of delivering Crossrail 2, the new team has been analysing what lessons can be learnt.  Funding, as always, is the biggest hurdle and this time around Crossrail 2 is keen to ensure that the funding mechanism captures the gain share from the uplift in property values near the new stations.  As only 2% of the estimated £61 billion uplift in value generated from Crossrail 2 can be captured by over station development and Mayoral CIL, the scale of this politically-sensitive challenge is all too clear.  

Just in case you missed them, here is a round up of the week's other "essential" headlines.  A man has been given the unusual reward of free fish heads for life by a restaurant chain in Hangzhou, China, after he saved the lives of four people. Liu Xinting was returning from lunch at the restaurant when he saw a car plunge into Thousand Island Lake. He swam to the car and rescued the occupants shortly before the vehicle sank.  Greggs, the bakers, was forced to apologise for swapping Jesus for a sausage roll in a promotional image for its advent calendar.  The photo, which showed the three wise men gazing down at a savoury pastry lying in a manger caused some understandable consternation.  And finally, a Cambridge University study has shown that sheep are able to recognise celebrity faces.  A team of eight sheep were trained to recognise the faces of four celebrities - journalist Fiona Bruce, actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Emma Watson, and former US President Barack Obama.  Not a hugely useful skill in isolation, but the study has proved that sheep have face-recognition abilities comparable with humans.  Is there a future for our woolly counterparts at GCHQ after all?  

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