As the dust begins to settle following the 2015 General Election result, the UK is adjusting to a Conservative party majority government for the first time in over a decade. David Cameron is already reviewing policies around the NHS and Britain’s place in the European Union, but what revisions are likely to occur in the employment and housing sectors?
Putting employment first
Figures have shown that the UK’s unemployment rate has fallen to 5.5 per cent, the lowest level since the summer of 2008. However, if we review the bigger picture, this is arguably influenced by underpaid, under employed staff and zero hours contracts.
The outcome of the 2015 General Election would suggest that the majority of the UK supports the progression of the ‘hard-working family’. This idea needs to be supported across the rest of the country. To guarantee this happens, our new Government must generate employment prospects which genuinely profit people as well as businesses. Benefits that show how employment can improve a person’s lifestyle long-term also must be highlighted if the country’s workforce is to see the true reward of full time careers.
To make long-term, profitable employment prospects a reality, two key actions must take place. The first is to encourage businesses to rethink the way they view their staff. Employees must be regarded as long-term investments for growth, as opposed to just another business necessity. The second is that Government must create sustainable environment for full-time positions which pay staff the Living Wage as a minimum, but ideally more.
Addressing the housing shortage
Cameron’s plans to increase the UK’s existing property stock, including the creation of 275,000 affordable homes, will certainly be welcomed by industry professionals. The Conservative’s housing pledge promises to bring supply closer to demand, as well as relieving the current UK housing crisis.
Despite these pledges, the Government must act quickly and take measures to ensure that homes are affordable for first time buyers if they are to improve the housing shortage immediately. Steps must also be put in place to address the position of those who currently own a home from purchasing additional properties as investments. This not only contributes to the current generation rent, it increases demand when supply is currently low and raises the cost of ownership. There is one straightforward solution to this: create more properties at a rate and cost that fulfils demand.
If we are to build more houses, we need available land to build on. As it stands, much of the land suitable for construction is sold at the top price as a commodity. Once bought, the developers create properties on the land and sell it on at an added value price – resulting in a price per property which is far in excess of the true cost of construction. Properties must be built to meet the demands of the borough’s residents, rather than the demands of property developer’s profits.
One shining light in all of this is the Conservative’s plans to create a £1bn brownfield fund, which should help to bring disused land to its full potential, while helping to cover the cost of remediation.
All of this, in theory, gives Local Authorities part of the puzzle in overcoming austerity measures. A publically owned plot should be developed by the party who hold it, then sold as a value added asset - not sold underdeveloped, to a company who will take advantage of the raw commodity.
The next five years will show us how successful the Conservatives plans to save the UK will become. However, it is our belief that only a reasonable and achievable plan, which allows equal opportunity, is the way to ensure that we all have jobs to go to and homes to return to.
Mike Brogan on behalf of Re:allies