HOUSING SHORTAGE HOLDING BACK BUSINESS GROWTH
08 October 2013
A lack of affordable housing in the Gatwick Diamond may be holding back the growth of businesses in the area according to the latest Business Barometer survey from the Gatwick Diamond Initiative.
Half of businesses surveyed believe that there is a shortage of housing in the Gatwick Diamond area and one fifth of businesses have found it hard to recruit staff because of a lack of suitable and affordable housing. It seems this particularly impacts on the recruitment of graduates and middle management staff. One business responding to the survey said that they needed to select at least two candidates for every job advertised because so often one will decide they cannot afford to live in the area and turn down the job offer. It seems that affordable/assisted purchase starter homes and 3-bedroom family homes are the most in demand.
However, businesses are very clear that building on the Green Belt is not the answer and that new homes without the necessary infrastructure will be unsustainable. Most want to see better use made of redundant office/retail space and brownfield sites.
The Green Belt is seen as part of the reason for the economic success of the area. The survey found that business would like to see more done to make local towns better places to live and work, with improved infrastructure and facilities to sustain communities.
With many Housing Associations finding the current economic environment a challenge, some local authorities are returning to public sector housing/council homes models. 85% of businesses surveyed thought this was something that should be considered by Councils within the Gatwick Diamond area.
The survey also looked at overall business confidence and found a positive outlook with 62% of businesses expecting to see growth in turnover over the next six months. Only 7% expect their turnover to decrease. In summary, the outlook is cautiously optimistic with 41% of businesses expecting to expand their staffing levels.
Commenting on the findings, Rosemary French, Executive Director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, says: “Access to affordable housing is clearly a problem for companies seeking to recruit staff in the Gatwick Diamond. As businesses in the area have pointed out, there is no easy solution but, if the economy is to grow, the housing issue clearly needs resolving so that people can afford to live and work in the area.”