Our PR Manager Drew McNeill blogs his thoughts on this year’s MIPIM – undoubtedly one of the busiest MIPIMs ever for the BPF team.
MIPIM 2017 saw the UK Government attend the global property conference for the very first time – a clear indicator of Government’s growing support of our sector, and recognition of the role we play in underpinning the nation’s future.
A cross-Whitehall effort
2018 saw Government return to MIPIM, and there was no mistaking that it had become a true cross-Whitehall initiative. After the success of last year, the Department for International Trade took the lead with input from several other government departments including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government with Homes England, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Government Property Unit and Department for Transport.
With a larger presence at the event, and the BPF as their official Programme Partner, Government and the property industry are now working closer than ever before to overcome shared challenges and achieve mutual objectives.
We were successful in creating a united front – so the world’s investment community could see that the UK is open for business and that real estate offers unparalleled opportunities for those seeking long-term, stable income.
Attracting this investment into new housing and the regeneration of our towns and cities is imperative, if we wish to ensure our built environment – the homes we live in, as well as the places where we work, shop and relax – is able to effectively support a more innovative and productive economy.
Spotlight on the UK’s regions
Leadership and partnership were core themes for the week. A scattering of Metro Mayors – Andy Street, Steve Rotheram, James Palmer and Tim Bowles – were in attendance to set out their stalls for how their respective regions are ready to work with our industry to deliver their aspirations. Each provided the necessary vision that investors seek, a key foundation for the positive partnerships with the private sector that will increase economic growth and social wellbeing across the UK. These regional strategies will go some way in elevating the profile of many of the towns and cities, and their individual needs, that have been neglected for too long.
Working hand in hand with strong, visionary leaders, the property industry will be more than willing to step up and demonstrate how it can contribute and support Government in achieving its aims. We have much to offer. Not least, we have the capital and expertise to ensure Government’s investment in new infrastructure reaches its full potential in creating the required homes, jobs and great places.
Homes England, the recently re-branded Homes and Communities Agency, the Government’s housing delivery agency, also attended MIPIM in force. The message is clear, Homes England is here to disrupt the status quo, and will bang heads together where need be to ensure that the public and private sectors work together more effectively. There is a real sense of momentum building.
Indeed, we are re-calibrating the relationship between Government and real estate, to the benefit of our industry and the country’s future. Events at MIPIM 2018 signal these changes clearly – but watch this space … there will be more to come.
Putting diversity and inclusivity at the top of the agenda
Underpinning all of this is diversity and inclusivity – a topic that we and Government put at the forefront of the UK Pavilion’s content throughout the course of last week.
Our industry creates a diverse landscape of places and buildings, and serves customers and communities from all backgrounds. However, our industry has perhaps been slow to act on the well-publicised benefits of a diverse workforce – simply put, it improves the bottom line.
Alongside the diversity seminar and reception at the UK Pavilion, we organised our own Diversity Afternoon Tea to get the industry together to discuss what more we can do, and ensure we become an industry in which people are proud to work and one that can attract people from all walks of life to consider as a career.
It’s not only the right thing to do, it is business critical. To be effective in delivering for the communities we serve, as well as maintaining and elevating our industry’s value to the UK, we must ensure we have a more diverse range of thought and expertise – and can truly understand our consumer. If not, our industry will suffer. And, given our industry’s success is inextricably linked to the health and wealth of the nation, the potential knock-on effect should not be taken lightly.
MIPIM came under fire this year from our national media, and while unacceptable behaviour must stop, many brilliantly talented women and men from across our industry attended the conference this year to help us achieve all of the above. From the BPF, our message is clear, it is an incredibly exciting time for our industry. Change in many guises is happening. We have the wind in our sails, so let’s continue to drive what will be a definitive year for property and the UK.