As the property crisis mutates and deepens, policymakers should be thinking hard about how to help get people out of this mess.
The public might look to the Government to consider ideas such as suspending stamp duty – but all they get is procrastination.
Business groups and City analysts have warned that cuts in the cost of borrowing would be needed to pull Britain out of its first recession in more than 15 years. But the Bank of England – which, as far as it is concerned, has as its primary duty keeping inflation in check – has refused to cut its rates.
There has been a lot of talk lately about the problems that people with homes are experiencing with increasing mortgages and falling house prices.
It is a major worry for many households, and the slim hopes that the Government has of securing another term in office will depend on its ability to steer the economy away from some of the more depressing forecasts.
The woes of the wider public are shared by business.
Orders for commercial property are said to be currently down 38 per cent, five per cent more than residential property.
The building and provision of properties for retail and commercial use is not only an indicator of the wider economy but also a crucial catalyst for economic activity. Jobs in the construction industry and commercial property sector depend on it, so the wider economic outlook will look even more gloomy if large swathes of cities such as Birmingham are left derelict while construction firms lay off builders.
So it’s with welcome relief to hear of Henderson Global Investors’ planned £70 million development of the former Bank of England site in Birmingham’s office district. It’s also encouraging to note that there are still a substantial number of projects which are all well underway, or set to begin in the coming months.
In many senses, the city’s regeneration chief Councillor Neville Summerfield is right to be bullish when he insists we can ride out this particular economic storm. Despite the recent hiccups elsewhere, the public-private funded major projects and developments like the Irish Quarter, with Kuwaiti backers, are still on course.
It’s to be hoped that when, rather than if, we come through the current economic downturn, those who have placed their faith in Birmingham will be amply rewarded, as will the city which has shown its faith in them.