Strutt & Parker says the housing crisis - in the shape of too few homes and their stubbornly high prices - is now hurting UK business.
The agency has questioned 1,000 senior executives and business owners with hard-hitting responses:
- 74 per cent say the housing crisis has a negative effect on their business;
- 55 per cent have lost staff because employees either cannot afford to live in the area or are unwilling to commute;
- some 73 per cent have struggled to attract new employees because of high housing costs in the area; and
- 71 per cent are either actively investing in residential areas for their employees or are thinking about doing so in future.
“High housing costs are restricting growth and profitability. It’s an issue that directly affects the ability of businesses to expand. According to our survey, high housing costs are responsible for a lack of skilled workers applying for jobs and slower expansion due to unfilled positions” according to Stephanie McMahon, head of research of Strutt & Parker’s parent company, BNP Paribas Real Estate.
McMahon says there are three ways that the housing crisis has affected the growth of businesses - higher wage costs, a simple lack of skilled workers, and slower expansion due to unfilled positions as potential employees are deterred by high prices.
Strutt & Parker’s survey reveals that the issue of housing affordability has spread right across the country, extending far beyond London, and is now so serious that 73 per cent of companies would consider relocating to an area with more affordable housing.
Some businesses are contemplating an even more radical solution.
In one of the most dramatic findings of the survey, 71 per cent of respondents are either actively considering investing in residential areas for their employees or are thinking about doing so in the future.
The survey results also show that there is another thing which unites business leaders – the need for greater government support, both national and local.
Nearly half of respondents believe a policy of building affordable new housing in the area around their business would help them to recruit and retain staff. Over a third also called for a policy on affordable rents and 30 per cent wanted investment in public transport to make commuting easier and more reliable.
“Anybody would recognise that in major cities around the world the inability to provide housing that people can afford is probably one of the biggest risks to global competitiveness. You can improve infrastructure and rely on people to commute for longer, but it’s a little like sticking a plaster on the problem” concludes McMahon.