Brexit and the Built Environment: Building a better future for Londoners
18 December 2018
Businesses of all sizes crave certainty, yet we’re operating in one of the most volatile and uncertain policy environments many of us can remember, and I am amazed how resilient the country has been to date.
However, the huge uncertainties of Brexit continue. No-one can say what will happen next but are we too focused on one thing? It reminds me of the old adage that a boxer is knocked out by the punch that he doesn’t see coming. I’m concerned there are punches coming down the line which will affect millions of people, and which need to be on the government and our radars.
We’ve necessarily spent two years talking about the “what ifs”, but what is clear to me is that although structurally significant, Brexit is one element in a changing London and it is the combination of changes that might pack the biggest punch.
A challenging economy for the built environment
As well as Brexit we are experiencing severe cut backs in the funding of local government; TFL running out of financial steam, a housing market that is stalling and correcting, an increase in young people choosing to leave London and a government that thinks London has had its share of investment.
All of these point to more difficult times ahead but we need to stop talking about the potential problems and start creating solutions. There is no time to lose.
As the CEO of a large London Housing Association we want to commit to building more homes, creating jobs, employing supply chains and helping improve the health and prosperity of ordinary Londoners. It is the simplest and best contribution we can make.
Building alliances and sharing risk
Today that means taking more risks than we have ever done but to succeed we will need help from government and partners in sharing those risks. That doesn’t just mean financial risk. We need to invest in skills and training so the whole construction industry builds a strong future; it means investing in modern methods of construction; and it will mean greater public/private sector partnerships.