We can build our way out of this slump
I FOUND Bill Jamieson’s comments (Business, 3 March) very appropriate when I read his welcome article on the Scottish property and construction industry.
Not in my lifetime, which includes over 30 years in the industry, have I seen around us such despair at a continuing and prolonged lack of stimulus in a market that shows no real sign of recovery and, when it comes to the commercial property industry in particular, little prospect of significant positivity for years to come.
It is absurd too that on one hand we have an urgent need of at least 15,000 new houses in Scotland per annum, yet we are struggling to build more than a few thousand. One of the biggest opportunities ever for the industry lies in the novel idea of providing tens of thousands of houses for rent (with green credentials) in a country where mortgages are no longer available or affordable, particularly for first-time buyers.
As Bill Jamieson points out, it is not the dynamics of the industry that denies us an explosion in construction activity. The slump is due to the aftermath of a bank lending boom from which no solution has been found (outside of London) by the financial sector (are they truly incentivised to try?) or the UK government.
Surely it cannot be beyond the wit of man to find a way of channelling some of the hoarded wealth and pension fund cash now struggling to find a home due to subdued opportunity in the commercial sector (outside London and Aberdeen) into what would be a flourishing new sector.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has consistently argued since the first recession in 2008 for the injection of capital investment and infrastructure development to help create a virtuous cycle of jobs and growth.
The Chancellor can finally succumb to calls for a proper Plan B by reversing Alistair Darling’s unbelievable lack of understanding of our basic economics when in office as he halved the capital budget right at the moment investment was working.
Osborne will be going about his biggest U-turn to date but, more important than the politics, he will be doing the right thing for youth employment, construction, and economic confidence and growth.
Macdonald Estates plc