The recent Financial Times property summit brought to light some interesting questions and facts relating to diversity within the industry; with many of them arising due to the uncertainties caused by Brexit.
The UK’s construction industry relies heavily on foreign nationals to make up its workforce, with a massive 50% of workers coming from overseas.
This current diversity is critical in keeping the housing market moving forward, and the shortage of UK tradesmen means the industry is likely to feel a big impact when Brexit hits;raising the question: how can housing development continue if the skilled work force is made to leave?
University’s throughout the UK are also concerned about what the future will bring, with high numbers of international students and talent coming into the UK from across the world; education providers are worried that their students will be sent back to Europe post Brexit, This will massively impact the UK’s talent pool. For the UK property sector to keep moving forward, the country needs diverse role models, a diverse workforce, and to be able to retain talented contributors both present and prospective.
The threat of Brexit is already beginning to impact the industry with as the steady stream of foreign workers already starting to decline due to less money on offer, no job security, and a likely hood of being deported once Brexit is officially triggered.
However, people within the industry are reminding us that Brexit is nothing more than a symptom right now, not a cause of the current state of the property market. Stating that what’s happening right now, was on track to happen regardless, Brexit is just a good place to shift the blame.
Ryan Otto who attended the Financial Times Summit said that property developer Sir Stuart Lipton spoke of issues currently affecting the industry; with Mr Lipton stating:
“Whatever we think about Brexit, planning is demonstrating a complete lack of knowledge by politicians who believe that the more they cane developers the more they remove their responsibility of providing what is desperate homes for ordinary decent people and blaming the development industry shows complete lack of understanding. We don’t generate land values ourselves. If we had more homes, they would cost less. Its quiet simple supply and demand. Why don’t the politicians understand if they allow more units to be built, there won’t be a problem with providing affordable homes. So, I wouldn’t be worrying about Brexit in property at the moment, I would be worrying about planning”
Another major concern in the current UK property market is the levels of debt that can’t be managed should interest rates continue to rise. Inflation must remain low, or the economy can’t remain, it’s just that simple. When interest rates rise, because of the levels of debt there will be mass defaults in the entire financial sector.
The summit also bought to light the issue of mental health within the workplace, with industry leaders stating that employees throughout London need more support; with mental health issues affecting high numbers of workers, especially within London.
The issues addressed have left questions looming, ones that currently can’t be well answered; along with experts throughout the industry stating that the future of the property sector, like all other sectors throughout the UK, is hanging in the balance due to Brexit.