BLP: Kim Vernau comments on the outlook for 2014

Kim Vernau, Chief Executive Officer,

BLP Insurance

, comments on the outlook for 2014 and how we need to keep a close eye on recovery at such a delicate economic stage:

Lack of housing supply

"We urgently need to provide additional housing to meet the increasing demand that we are seeing for property in the UK. It is, however, vitally important that we are considered and legislate properly if that property is going to be both sustainable and cost effective. Producing housing, that fails to meet these criteria, is not a solution as it becomes a problem over time."

"This starts from the planning stage in terms of the quality of the build. Further we need to consider the effects on local communities and ensure that new housing developments have the right infrastructure available needed to support them and provide residents with enough schools and hospitals. A considered and effective Neighbourhood plan with buy in from all affected parties is key to the success of such development. The current lack of available land is a big problem. We endorse the Government's initiative to enable communities to improve their local area by giving them the right to ask that underused or unused land owned by Public Bodies be brought back into use."

Interest rates

"The continued growth of the property market in 2014 depends on whether Mark Carney increases the interest rate before the end of 2014, contrary to his "Forward Guidance" indications. Any indication that the rate will move before the end of 2014 will affect confidence and could potentially damage any recovery as developers and buyers retreat through nerves."

"In the absence of this and with close monitoring of the Help to Buy Scheme we predict that 2014 will demonstrate strong momentum and anticipate that 2015 will be positioned to continue with strong growth, a genuine case of watch this space."

Capital Gains Tax and the potential damage to the London market

"The recent changes to CGT in respect of foreign buyers announced by the Chancellor earlier this month could scare the horses and stop foreign investors from bringing their investment to the UK. We would not wish to see such a measure dissuade foreign investors from investing their money here by creating an atmosphere of uncertainty in respect of taxation. The Government intend to conduct a thorough investigation of this measure early in the New Year and we hope they consider the dangerous signal this move would send to foreign investors. "

Private Rented Sector Initiative

"We are unlikely to see sufficient new build for purchase housing stock to meet the demands in the next five-seven years. The Government needs to get firmly behind their Private Rented Sector Task Force promoting this scheme and make it work. They need to ensure the provision of sufficient stock for the Private Rented Sector but also that it is of high quality build. Further there is the requirement that any projects are able to stand on their own two feet financially without the need for additional support.

"We are unlikely to start seeing the benefits of this initiative for another 12-18 months but, it can only be a positive step in terms of the provision of more housing which is urgently required for those saving for a deposit or unable to afford their own homes. The consumer should also benefit from improved quality, workmanship and maintenance standards of the anticipated stock.

"Younger people and Key Workers should be given priority. 'Generation rent' should always be considered first as these are the types of people who are used to renting through university or otherwise and are more likely to continue doing so as they move into their adult life.

"New housing stock should be used for new workers to create thriving young professional communities and avoid the mistakes created by the social engineering of the past."

Staff Author

Thomas Miller Group