Mark Pearson on 'Home Truths'

Mark Pearson on 'Home Truths' Click to enlarge

05 Jun 2014

As growth begins to take hold, Surrey firms are feeling increasingly optimistic with many taking on new employees, but they say the lack of affordable quality housing is becoming a real headache for their employees.

Many firms are telling us that recruiting and retaining staff is getting tough because people are being priced out of local markets and are forced to move further away from their workplace. This adds to the cost of their commute and ultimately to business staffing costs.

Surrey simply does not have enough affordable quality housing supply to meet demand, so we need to keep highlighting the issue to policy makers and encourage them to free up land for residential building, accelerate the planning process and enable more homes to be built.

The housing shortage is already beginning to have an impact on SME businesses who cannot afford to inflate wages in order to keep up with our runaway housing market.  Our start up business community is essential in keeping the county innovative, but unless something is done to increase the availability of quality affordable housing in Surrey, many professionals, entrepreneurs and talented jobseekers will be pushed to other UK locations.

As Chief Executive of Surrey Connects, I recently hosted a launch event for the National Housing Federation’s South East Home Truths report.  This event highlighted the need to have sensible discussions which result in solutions to address housing affordability, the supply and demand shortfall and the impact on the economy if we fail to act.  We need Local Enterprise Partnerships and local authorities to work together to tackle these issues.

At Surrey Connects, we have a well-established core strategy in place that focuses on smart economic growth, which is a way of increasing the economic prosperity of the county by balancing the needs of human, environmental, social and physical capital. This ensures that Surrey maintains and grows its relative competitive advantages in the global market place without harming the very attributes that make it a favourable place to work, study, live and visit.

Smart economic growth also means the longevity and sustainability of businesses and housing at the right price helps support this in strengthening the local economy

But to realise our vision for doubling the county’s economy to £52bn and drive forward the smart economic growth agenda, we need to push for more homes to be built so that people can afford in the right places so that businesses can grow, take on local staff, inject new life into struggling communities and secure a bright future for us all.