CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, LONDON & EUROPEAN
To UK plc has finally staggered out of recession. Forgive me if I don’t sound the trumpets and hang out the bunting but growth of 0.1% is little to cheer about.
And as economists warn that we could slide straight back into recession there is a danger that the improvements we have seen of late in the housing market could be derailed.
The fragility of the economy combined with uncertainty over who our political masters will be after the election is likely to stifle consumers’ appetite to move home and deter potential first-time buyers from getting on the housing ladder. Who can blame them?
Repairing the public finances has to be the priority for whichever party wins power but this will mean public spending cuts and higher taxes, both of which will place a further burden on businesses and consumers.
So there’s not much prospect of new private sector jobs before the economy stabilises, while the reduction in public spending will lead to public sector job losses.
I doubt many consumers feel safe from the threat of redundancy and their focus will remain on building up savings rather than incurring debt.
While the British Bankers’ Association revealed something of an improvement in mortgage lending in December 2009 it admitted that the figures could have been inflated by purchases pushed through before the end of Stamp Duty relief.
As much as I’d like to be positive I think we’re all going to have to hold on tight for a while.