Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, British Property Federation says: “The success of the Industrial Strategy will be judged on the extent to which it stimulates private sector investment in partnership with the public sector to deliver growth. In the case of the real estate industry, which contributes towards 5.4% of GDP and directly employs 6.8% of the labour force in the UK, we welcome the Government’s recognition of Local Enterprise Partnerships and the review to demonstrate their role in delivering local growth – as well as the focus on productivity and infrastructure investment. The Green Paper is also a good opportunity to think about barriers to growth and so we will want to feed in what barriers challenges sometimes hold our sector back, such as overly complicated planning and tax systems.
“The impetus is on Local Authorities to become more self-sufficient and, particularly in this period of uncertainty, their ability to forge relationships with the real estate sector could provoke a seismic shift in the way much needed development is brought forward. More Local Authorities should be able to offer a context for investment that will demonstrate scope for economic growth, encouraging our industry’s investors to collaborate and make this growth a reality, and central Government must do everything it can to stimulate this. The BPF is already providing best practice to support this but it will require innovative thinking and clear guidance from both central and empowered local leaders.
“The planning system is only as good as the resourcing it has from Local Authorities, and closing that resource gap is something that must be debated and addressed in the forthcoming Housing White Paper, if it is not to negatively impact on the country’s development pipeline. The Government also needs to provide a stable and predictable tax system that encourages both UK and foreign investment, including simplifying VAT to incentivise development and renovation activity. The supply chain underpinning all sectors is dependent on a thriving and efficient logistics market, which is currently under threat due to a lack of land available for industrial development.
“We need a step change in construction, and support Government efforts to promote innovation and attract new people into the sector. The latest official figures suggest that nearly 12 per cent of the 2.1 million construction workers come from overseas, mainly from the EU. It is important we do not cut off that supply when the Government is wanting to see a significant expansion in housing delivery, especially given that training up more people will take time.”