Since the global financial crisis, Britain’s GDP has lagged
perilously behind that of the other G7 economies. Despite working more hours
than the US, Germany and France, Britain falls significantly short when
compared with their productivity levels. Brexit aside, I believe this is our
biggest issue as a country.
of the problem is that nobody fully understands why this has been an issue for
so long. Among the causes, a reduction in labour mobility is often flagged,
resulting in people changing jobs less frequently than before. Several studies,
including Danny Blanchflower’s ‘Does high home ownership impair labour
markets?’ (2013), show a link between the two.
According to the Resolution Foundation’s ‘Get a Move On’ report
(August 2017), internal migration today is at a lower level than in the late
1990s/early 2000s and notably, “the fall in the share of graduates moving
region and employer has again been large enough to offset the boost to mobility
that this group traditionally provides”.
Housing, and the lack of good- quality, well-priced rental
homes, is clearly a factor. For example, Cambridge is established as a
leader in the biotech industry, providing great opportunities for graduates,
but the challenge it faces is the lack of good-quality housing available for
Manchester, a city that has taken a proactive approach to building new homes,
particularly homes for rent, achieves a 52% graduate retention rate and has
enticed companies such as Amazon and TalkTalk to relocate there.
Another impeding factor to labour mobility is our age-old belief
that buying is always better. It’s curious to me why we encourage young people
to “get on the housing ladder” so early. While the benefits of home ownership
are well versed, it is so often cost prohibitive.
So how can housing, and the private rented sector (PRS), offer a
solution? In a mature market, like the US, PRS providers with a large
geographic footprint enable residents to move from city to city.As an example
of this in action here, we recently received a request from a Grainger resident
at Argo Apartments in London to move into our latest development at Clippers
Quay, Manchester (pictured). A move like this relieves the resident of the need
to flat-hunt and reduces the administration headaches.
Through flexible, longer leases, the professional landlord can
also offer security for customers, knowing they can stay indefinitely or move
after six months.
Grainger’s commitment to well-connected homes delivers
well-located, technology-enabled buildings with a wealth of services, providing
I’m confident that if we create an environment where people are
happy at home, they will be more focused and productivity will grow. Good
quality, well-managed housing, whether in the public or private sector, is
essential to our feeling of wellbeing and productivity. As a resident,
knowing your landlord is putting you at the heart of their business enables you
to put your heart into your job.
Helen Gordon is chief executive of Grainger