Longhurst Group Chief Executive’s response to the Autumn statement
Published by keeley for Longhurst Group in Central Government and also in Housing, Local Government
Bob Walder, Chief Executive of Longhurst Group, reflects on the impact of last week’s Autumn Statement and asks if the national announcements mirror the regional picture.
The 2013 Autumn Statement, delivered by George Osbourne last week [Thursday 5th November], has already sparked hundreds of debates across the country about the future of our economy and communities, yet only time will tell what impact the national announcement will have on local people.
The Chancellor’s Statement was preceded by the Governor of the Bank of England’s announcement shifting the emphasis of the bank’s ‘funding for lending’ scheme from mortgage lending to business lending. This was intended to reduce demand for houses for sale and so avert the risk of another ‘housing bubble’ in which prices increase rapidly. Taken together with Mr Osbourne’s additional funding for housing development of homes for rent and low cost home ownership this is a welcome sign that more ‘affordable’ housing is wanted by the government. However, the gap between supply and demand is so massive that much more investment in low cost homes will be needed if any serious attempt is to be made to bridge that gap.
The government appears to have tuned into the housing association principle of supporting communities holistically recognising the integral relationship that exists between housing and employment. It is of great importance that housing is not singled out as a stand-alone issue and I am encouraged by the political focus on increasing work opportunities. As a significant local employer Longhurst Group has long been a supporter of apprenticeship schemes and the government focus on the creation of 20,000 new apprenticeships will provide some young people with a much needed step into the workplace.
I shall watch with interest the regional spread of these investments and initiatives. With homes and services spanning the Midlands, Longhurst Group has an intimate understanding of the issues faced by the region which are often different to trends found in London and the South East.
The announcements come alongside news that the UK’s growth forecast is strong with unemployment predicted to dip. We need to further drive the economic recovery through increased home building as not only does every pound spent on construction help provide homes but it contributes over twice as much back into the local economy.
The Midlands is still in the grips of a severe housing crisis but organisations such as Longhurst Group that believe in affordable homes for everyone must seize this opportunity to push housing higher up the local agenda and build homes in the areas that need them most.