The vast majority of property hotspots in the UK are located in and around London and also the South. Despite the fact that this North/South divide has been ongoing for decades there seems little in the way of movement to even-out the pressure on local property hotspots. So, realistically what can the UK government do to spread UK property investment more evenly across the country?
One strategy which has been tried on numerous occasions, whether wholeheartedly or not is debatable, is the relocation of various public services from the South of England to the Midlands and the North. The fact is that the heavy density of public services in the South of England increases employment opportunities, with a knock-on effect to other businesses in the region, and therefore increases demand for property. In what can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy, the ever-growing dependence on public services breeds greater long-term employment opportunities (despite ongoing austerity measures) focusing greater and greater interest on local property.
Which government of the future will be brave enough to relocate more public services to the Midlands and the North?
Whether we like it or not, even if we set aside public services across the UK, there are more employment opportunities in the London region and the South. There is a need to introduce greater tax breaks for businesses locating further North of London and while the move towards greater local control of taxes is useful, more needs to be done. The greater the tax breaks outside of the South and London the more employers will move further North which will improve employment opportunities and demand for local property.
This has been tried to a certain extent in years gone by but, again, was it wholeheartedly applied?
If we look at roads, trains, planes or even the Internet, there is no doubt that many areas of the Midlands and the North of England fare badly when compared to their southern counterparts. While the high-speed rail link between the North and London has grabbed many headlines the fact is that it has been delayed time and time again. The forecast cost of the link is rising although public confidence in the ability of the current and any future government to deliver on time and within an acceptable budget continues to fall.
Infrastructure plays an important role in any property market because quite simply the more accessible the more chance that investors will look towards a particular area. Is it time to balance out spending between the South, London and the North of England?
For many years there has been a north-south divide and unfortunately this is likely to continue for some time to come. This has a material impact upon local property markets and while a few small tweaks to public services, tax breaks and infrastructure spending would have a major impact, will any government be brave enough to push through a move which could be seen as detrimental to London and the South of England?
Even though we have seen some natural progression from the more sought-after London/South property markets in the UK, with some investors moving towards the Midlands and the North, this is painfully slow in many areas.