London 2036: an agenda for jobs and growth

Meeting: 
Plenary on 2015-07-01
Session date: 
July 1, 2015
Reference: 
2015/1995
Question By: 
Stephen Knight
Organisation: 
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
Harvey McGrath, Deputy Chair of the LEP, and Cathy Walsh OBE, Further Education Representative of the LEP

Question

What is the status of the 'London 2036: an agenda for jobs and growth' plan in relation to the ‘Jobs and Growth Plan for London’?

Answer

Answer for London 2036: an agenda for jobs and growth

Answer for London 2036: an agenda for jobs and growth

Answered By: 
Harvey McGrath, Deputy Chair of the LEP, and Cathy Walsh OBE, Further Education Representative of the LEP

Stephen Knight AM:  Thank you.  You have probably already covered some of its status earlier on ‑‑

Harvey McGrath (Deputy Chair, London Enterprise Panel):  We have.

Stephen Knight AM:  ‑‑ but I did have one or two questions about some of the content of it, which I wonder if I can put to you.

Harvey McGrath (Deputy Chair, London Enterprise Panel):  Sure.

Stephen Knight AM:  One thing that is raised in here, although it is at page 45 of the report, is the issue of housing and housing costs in London, which you flag up as an increasing barrier ‑‑

Harvey McGrath (Deputy Chair, London Enterprise Panel):  Indeed.

Stephen Knight AM:  ‑‑ to employment and growth in the city.  Your report makes clear that house prices in London are in part a reflection of the city’s desirability as a place to invest - we are seeing that particularly with a lot of people investing in the property market - and also obviously a lack of long-term new capacity being built, which I think everyone recognises.

Would you agree that from a business perspective, the rising cost of housing is now becoming one of the biggest barriers to growth in London’s economy?

Harvey McGrath (Deputy Chair, London Enterprise Panel):  I am not sure that it is one of the biggest barriers to growth in London’s economy, but I would say that the cost of housing is now one of the top two or three issues that businesses have with respect to location in London.  In other words, they are increasingly concerned about the ability to recruit and retain because of the difficulties that those people find in securing accommodation.

Stephen Knight AM:  Indeed.  With rising housing costs, it is only going to get worse, is it not?

Harvey McGrath (Deputy Chair, London Enterprise Panel):  Correct.

Stephen Knight AM:  It is likely to move up the agenda, I guess, in years to come?

Harvey McGrath (Deputy Chair, London Enterprise Panel):  That is absolutely correct.

Stephen Knight AM:  Clearly, one of the issues is businesspeople, I suppose, buying up properties and forcing the prices up.  Therefore, to some extent part of the business community, in terms of landowners and developers, potentially is part of the problem in this.  Is there something that the business community more generally could say or do to support more affordable housing in London, either through supporting the construction of more affordable homes or indeed through measures to try to prevent the demand side of the economy driving the prices through the roof, pricing out employees for the rest of the business economy?

Harvey McGrath (Deputy Chair, London Enterprise Panel):  It is a complex, multifaceted problem.  There are demand-side issues, but there clearly are significant supply-side issues.  There are potentially a number of business initiatives that are relevant here.  I would, for example, point to the increasing investment by some of the pension funds and long-term investors in housing in such a way as to create additional capacity for affordable housing.  Legal & General (L&G) would be a name that I would cite as having taken a number of steps in this regard.  Attracting funds in to take a longer-term view of the supply-side issue is part of this.

However, it is only one part of it.  There are, clearly, major planning issues.  There are major issues around freeing up land that should be developed which is not being developed, often, by the way, land that is in the public sector’s hands.  There is a need to accelerate those programmes that are already in process across all of those dimensions and all of those aspects of the problem.

Stephen Knight AM:  Thank you.  I think I am well out of time.