To almost everyone’s surprise, here we are again in the midst of a General Election.
Few of us were expecting to be thrown into yet more political chaos when we returned to work after the Easter weekend, not least because our Prime Minister has made it clear on numerous occasions that she wouldn’t be taking the country to the polls until 2020. Alas, here we are.
Clearly there will be one issue at the centre of this campaign: the UK’s exit from the European Union. Whether that is hard or soft will be dependent on the outcome on June 8th. However, while it’s obvious that this will be the dominant topic, I hope the campaigning political parties do not ignore other issues.
Let’s hope the housing market is properly addressed. The latest government policy to force councils to produce up-to-date registers of brownfield sites primed for development is a step in the right direction but we need to see more done to address the housing shortage, rather than token gestures that are a drop in the ocean compared to what’s needed. We need policies in place for addressing the issue with empty houses in the UK, and bringing them back into use. We need planning laws to be significantly relaxed and we need to see real investment in construction.
Let’s focus on providing greater support for SMEs and entrepreneurs. Despite repeatedly being called the lifeblood of the economy, SMEs and new business owners still struggle to get the support they need. Along with many banks still making funding for SMEs difficult to access we have policies like the much maligned (and quickly scrapped) increase in NI for the self-employed which show the people creating the jobs market of tomorrow are actually facing numerous hurdles.
Let’s see greater support for first-time buyers. Instead of looking for someone to blame (and wrongly pointing the finger at landlords), let’s address the real problem. According to latest figures, one in three first-time buyers rely on financial assistance from their parents to get on the housing ladder. But what about those buyers from families who are unable to help? Let’s see some real initiatives for them.
And when it’s all over on June 9th and we have a winner, let’s hope we finally see some stability for the country. Enough political spats and in-party fighting, let’s get on with addressing the issues that actually matter.