David Montague

Bon Voyage

So today is the day that we are set adrift from Europe, with Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland in tow, at least for now.
Published on 29/03/2017

So today is the day that we are set adrift from Europe, with Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland in tow, at least for now. We have two years before we arrive at our new destination and quite a few more before we can call it home. Where is it, and what does it mean for housing?

As with most things there are risks and opportunities. Let's start with the risks. 

Housing in London, Sadiq Khan’s recent report, found that of the 350,000 people working in London’s construction sector only half are from the UK. Immigration is a vital source of labour - without it our ambitions won't be fulfilled. Already firms are experiencing difficulty in recruiting the skills they need but this is more about the weakness of the pound than uncertainty about immigration. 

A weaker pound is also having an impact on imported materials, pushing up the cost of news homes.

And we face at least two years of uncertainty which is never good for investors

But, as Aubrey (L&Q's chair, my boss) says, "everything is an opportunity".

Together, housing associations have a compelling post Brexit offer to make - work with us and we will invest in apprenticeships, jobs, new methods of construction, economic growth, communities and homes.

Investors might not like uncertainty but everything is relative. When the result of the referendum was announced investors sold shares and bought gold. And they bought housing association bonds - in a climate of global uncertainty housing associations are still seen as a safe bet.

In any economic climate we have unique strengths. We don't see the world through the eyes of quarterly trading statements. We are long term businesses guided not by the short term sentiments of shareholders but by our long term social purpose.  

And most importantly, people need somewhere to live. There is no other sector that can be as sure as we are that, however hard we work, however determined we are, demand will outstrip supply. If people aren't buying they are renting.  And as long as we maintain the confidence of our investors we will keep on investing. 

So as we set sail housing associations can and must make use of their unique advantages.  It is our job, no matter where we are heading, to make our home a better place to live.

Bon voyage 

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