Many commentators, stock market participants and surveyors have been warning us that housebuilding and the homes market will be badly damaged by the vote to leave the EU. We were told to expect an immediate shock to confidence, leading to falling purchases and plunging prices.
Yesterday a leading housebuilder, Persimmon, brought us up to date with their trading. In the first half year there was a 6% rise on the numbers of homes they sold, and a 6% rise in the average price of homes they sold, with good growth in revenue and profits. Worries about the vote did not drag them down. Since the vote they tell us there has been a 20% increase in the number of visitors to their sites, and a 17% increase in reservations of homes by buyers. In other words, the very opposite of the gloomy forecasts has once again happened.
If this is the experience of one of the UK’s larger housebuilders, it is difficult to believe other housebuilders would have experienced the opposite. Persimmon are planning to increase the numbers of homes they build, as they foresee more demand ahead.
Would those who forecast the immediate shock and have said they think the housing market is falling like to comment? It is difficult to understand why the share market marked down housebuilders so savagely after the Brexit vote. They of course are busily revising their view and have marked housebuilding shares up again since.
Meanwhile we had another of those surveys which pessimists have welcomed to their cause. This one is a bit different. The CBI Industrial trends survey showed output expectations at a modest plus 11 compared to plus 6 in July. This implies rising industrial output over the third quarter of 2016. Total orders were at -5 compared to -4 in July. These are often negative – they were at minus 18 in October last year for example, and negative for several other months long before the referendum became an influence.
For the past thirty years, there has been a persistent economic gap between the North and the national average. In 2015 the North generated an economic output of around £290bn in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA). Now this was around one fifth of the nation's total as a whole, but we have more to give.
Indeed, we need to bridge the gap between the North's economic potential and its current realities. This will of course be spurred on by private investment, something which will herald a greater number of highly skilled jobs for the people of the North.
'Business as usual' for the North would not mean zero growth or investment, but it would likely mean that the gap between the North and the rest of the country would continue to widen. The report therefore outlines a transformational approach to the Northern economy; one which capitalises on out key capabilities, but also seeks to improve our infrastructure.
The North is certainly more than capable. The report highlights our proficiency in advanced manufacturing, energy, health innovation and digital innovation. These will act as the cornerstone from which the Northern Powerhouse will undoubtedly thrive.
The report suggests that by 2050, a scheme of workable and sustained growth will result in the creation of 1.5 million jobs by 2050, a rise in our GVA and an increase in skilled work. These are all things that are obtainable.
If you would like to read about the report's overview in full, it can be found here - http://www.transportforthenorth.com/pdfs/NP/Overview-NP-Independent-Economic-Review.pdf
What is palpably clear is that the North is growing. It's becoming more innovative and productive on a daily basis, and it is of the utmost importance that we continue these trends. We have all the tools at out disposal, so we now need strong leadership to bring these plans to fruition. I will endeavour to do all that I can to ensure that this is the case.
Is there a Welsh Labour Godwin’s Law?
Godwin's law is an Internet adage asserting that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazism or Hitler — that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism.
Promulgated by American attorney and author Mike Godwin in 1990, Godwin's law originally referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions. It is now applied to any threaded online discussion, such as Internet forums, chat rooms, and comment threads, as well as to speeches, articles, and other rhetoric where Reductio ad Hitlerum occurs.
In Welsh Labour it's Reductio ad Bevanum. Sooner or later (usually sooner) every Welsh Labour politician’s speech will mention Aneurin Bevan. The NHS and Miners swiftly follow.
Frenetic activity by the Farmers’ Unions press people. I have had more e-mails from them post-Brexit than in the whole of the past 5 years. Daily they tell of their consultations with politicians at farm shows throughout Wales.
Always the same message. Brexit is an opportunity for farmers to rejig the EU subsidies. Agreed. A great chance to introduce fairness and a jolt of reality that could be as beneficial to the prosperity of UK farming as the ending of debilitating subsidies were in New Zealand in 1985.
There is a strong case for subsidies to small Welsh farms. They are at the custodians of the most ancient, precious culture of the Welsh nation. A re-jig should introduce a maximum subsidy in the same that welfare benefit payments were capped recently for the poor. A cap on benefits on millionaire farmers would liberate money to subsidies small farmers, the NHS and ailing Welsh industries.
Brexit is an opportunity that must be used to re-think a rotten system that delivers poor value and hand-outs to the super-rich.
Seize the day, farming unions!
Is the campaigning for the Labour Leadership over now the votes are being distributed?
A period of omertà from both sides until September the 23rd would be appreciated. There has been an excess of bile and wanton self-laceration of the party. Will both sides now concentrate on repairing the damage done to party unity? Slagging other people off is easy. Time now to get serious and work out strategies for the 24th of September.
Whoever wins, the losers must re-dedicate themselves to bridging divisions and directing our venom on the awful Tory Government which is split down the middle on Brexit and surrenders every day to greedy lobbyists to the detriment of the nation's well-being.
Let's compete on attacking the real enemy!
I've always respected the right of members to choose who they vote for in our internal party elections for Leader. And I've never, in the past, felt the need to intervene to urge members in Camberwell and Peckham to vote for any particular candidate. But I'm writing to you today to urge you to vote for Owen Smith and not for Jeremy Corbyn because I feel it is fundamental for the prospect of a progressive future for our country.
I believe Owen Smith recognises what I believe to be the case. That it is our duty to protect people from the unfairness and the reactionary policies of the Tories. That it is only with a Labour government that we can do that and that only Labour will make the changes which challenge entrenched inequality, prejudice and discrimination.
The job of the leader of the party is to unite us and take us towards that. It is clear that Jeremy Corbyn cannot unite the party. The party has become deeply divided under his leadership. We have seen that both at national and at local level here in Camberwell and Peckham. A leader cannot blame others for division. The buck stops with the leader.
I believe with Owen Smith for Leader we can get on track to put our progressive principles into practice. I will be voting for him and I hope you will too.
Earlier this week, Redditch MP Karen Lumley received confirmation from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) about Round 2 of their Skills and Opportunities Fund which opened last Friday (19 August 2016) and is a great funding opportunity for Redditch constituents.
This hugely successful funding is available for charities, social enterprises, community groups, state-funded schools and colleges based in Redditch.
RBS launched the fund in May last year as part of their ongoing commitment to making a difference in the communities that they serve and so far £1.25 million has been awarded to people in the UK and Ireland.
They have allocated a further £2.5 million for 2016 to support organisations that help people in disadvantaged communities develop, create or access the skills and opportunities they need to help themselves; enabling them to get into work or start a business, now or in the future.
RBS want to help support as many people and organisations as possible. This might include offering their skills and expertise to help you get your project off the ground in addition to a monetary grant.
Karen added: "This is a great opportunity for local organisations, social enterprises and even schools to access vital funding and support".
"I regularly work with lots of local charities and community groups in desperate need of financial support and guidance, so I strongly recommend that people take up the opportunity and apply before the closing date on 9 September 2016."
For further information, including application criteria, please visit their website at: http://skillsandopportunitiesfund.rbs.com/
"The economic risk of Brexit is over", says Moody's. "Now the risk is the US Presidential election." For two centuries, economic growth has been driven by technological innovation. Why do the economic 'experts' seem to think it's all about politics?
Technology is radically transforming the global economy right now.
Last week, the World Economic Forum published a report on how blockchain – the technology behind Bitcoin - is set to revolutionise financial services. It offers more transparency, greater trust, fewer middlemen – and less need for ratings agencies like Moody's.
Blockchain's potential goes beyond business. Two weeks ago, the government made a blockchain company an approved public-sector supplier. It hopes the technology could eliminate fraud and overpayment in the welfare system.
Another incredible innovation on the horizon is the driverless car. Uber is about to pilot driverless minicabs – which will ultimately enable it to cut fares even further than it has already.
Ten years ago, who would have predicted that either of these technologies would now be mainstream?
Innovation tends to take everyone by surprise. That's nothing new.
Two hundred years ago, Malthus predicted mass starvation because of overpopulation. Instead, because of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, not only did the world's population boom, but the standard of living unprecedentedly rose too.
The unpredictability of innovation is one of the reasons why economic 'experts' have such trouble foreseeing the future – and why the doomsayers are so often wrong.
Of course, politics can negatively affect economies. In fact, it usually does. The more politicians try and micromanage the economy, the more they hold it back.
But innovation is changing politics too. Thanks to the digital revolution, politics as we know it is giving way to iDemocracy.
Politicians love to think economic growth is all about them. No one else needs to play along with their fantasy.
A few days ago I took about two hours to write a post about the 'political' interference of the European Court of Justice in European Union matters. This court, more than any other body delivered the vote to leave the European Union. It took its decisions in support of the political objective of "Ever closer union." The people of the U.K. decided they'd had enough of this and voted to Leave. There is a proper place for courts to decide. And there are times when courts should decide not to decide. How the Labour Party chooses its leader is one of them. In my opinion (as a sheep farmer and gardener that is)!!
The Award is named after Archbishop Stephen Langton, who was Archbishop at the time of the signing of Magna Carta.
The Award made from Fairtrade silver will be conferred on Sir Tony Baldry by the Archbishop of Canterbury during a ceremony at Lambeth Palace on 31st March.
For further information click here.
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Rory Stewart MP met with local producers in Penrith last week to discuss the upcoming ‘Cumbria Day’ in London, which he is organising along with fellow Cumbrian MP’s; John Stevenson, Sue Heyman, Jamie Reed and Tim Farron. It would be the second event of its kind, celebrating Cumbrian business, and in particular, it’s speciality food […]
Hello. If you are reading this it might be because you want to sign up for my campaign to be deputy leader of the Labour Party. There is a separate site for this which can be found at this Tom for Deputy link.
The Haringey Indepedent asked me to outline reasons why people should vote for me… Here’s my response!
“Starting with the very basic – I am local! I grew up in Haringey, went to Highgate primary, and still live in the constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green today.
“It’s so important to know the area you want to represent.
“I also have a 20 year record of working with residents and campaign groups to protect and improve our local services.
“If I had to pick the single most important campaign – it would be saving the Whittington A&E from the previous Labour Government’s closure plans. The second I got wind, I posted the information on my website (where it remains today!) and kicked off a massive campaign.
“Joining forces with local residents and campaign groups – I marched, I petitioned, I secured a debate and asked questions in Parliament, and together we were successful and Gordon Brown’s Government backed down. If we hadn’t saved it – I don’t think we’d still have a hospital.
“Nationally, I’ve fought for policies that benefit our borough. The Lib Dems in parliament have taken the lowest paid workers out of paying tax, and introduced the Pupil Premium to get extra money to schools in more disadvantaged areas.
“These measures mean that thousands of low-paid Haringey workers have be taken out of paying income tax altogether, and £13 million extra has been given to our local schools, teachers and pupils.
“In Government, I’ve used my ministerial positions to push a progressive agenda. As Equalities minister, I was the originator and architect of equal marriage. I then moved to the Department for International Development, where I announced a £35 million programme to end FGM within a generation, and protected the aid budget.
Summer recess, however, is a great opportunity to catch up, take stock, and get on top of things as best as possible, so here I am again with a new (Parliamentary) year resolution to get back to blogging.
I hope I still have at least one reader left!
Speaking on the day that Greenpeace and NUTFA (the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association) launched their Manifesto For Fair Fisheries, Tom called on the government to take the lead in supporting small fishing communities. He said the case had now been made for a “radical overhaul” of the way fishing quotas are allocated within the UK.
Smaller “inland” fishing vessels make up three quarters of the UK’s fishing fleet and employ nearly two thirds of all full-time workers. But they are restricted from catching more than four per cent of the UK fishing quota, with 96 per cent being allocated to the larger industrial fleet.
Tom added: “Labour wants reform that tackles vested interests and rewards those who fish more sustainably and selectively, with less impact on the environment. It is unacceptable that fleets representing the smaller, sustainable end of the industry, and which employ nearly two thirds of full-time workers, should have to survive on just four per cent of the UK fishing quota.
“The Government should be taking a lead in supporting our small fishing communities that are the lifeblood of many coastal areas.
“The case has now been made for a radical overhaul of the way fishing quotas are allocated within the UK. The Government needs to issue a definitive list of who exactly owns the rights to UK quota, and begin urgent talks on significantly increasing the percentage quota allocated to the Under Ten fleet.”
Prior to the meeting, I had already been in touch with Network Rail, to strongly urge them to deal with some of the key issues around the station. Network Rail confirmed at the meeting that, as a result of my request, they had immediate plans in place now to paint the station, address the rodent problem, board up unused windows and clear graffiti They had also requested additional litter bins from Hounslow Council. At the meeting, St George's highlighted the work they had been doing too to clear up graffiti in the local area.
I am very pleased that Network Rail responded so well and are giving Kew Bridge Station a 'facelift,' which will help local residents. It will make the station seem cleaner and safer and I welcome their efforts to improve it for passengers. As a group, we are also in discussion regarding the future of the station building at Kew Bridge. As it is a Listed Building, it is obviously of architectural importance. It would be excellent if it could be restored to its former glory and put to good use.
The group is going to meet again within the next month to review progress and discuss next steps.
Maria said: “This new legislation will make a real difference to how local matters are decided. The Community Rights measures, for example, will give new rights to local community and voluntary groups to protect, improve and even run important frontline services that might otherwise close down, such as local shops, pubs and libraries,.”
Maria added: “This Bill offers great opportunities for Basingstoke. Among other things, it will radically reform the planning system so that local people have a greater say and influence over what Basingstoke looks like in the future. Giving local people the opportunity to shape the development of the communities in which they live is something that I have long campaigned for, and I am delighted to see it being enshrined in law.
“The Borough Council’s current consultation on the number of new homes needed in Basingstoke is part of this process of taking local people’s views into consideration in developing a vision for the future. I would urge all residents to let the Council have their views on this before the end of the consultation on 14 January.”
The long parliamentary recess has started - weeks without time being spent in the weekly grindingly boring train ride to London and back. Mind you its a hectic pace back at Southport but you can control your agenda better.
Yesterday I found a little time for light exercise the odd game of table tennis and a workout with heavy weights.
I've done the latter all my adult life and it has a slight addictive quality. If you don't do it for a while you actually feel muscle cramps only relieved by putting the old system under pressure.
Constraints of time often mean I forego all the warm ups and warm downs etc. So there I was on Tuesday doing a few front squats in excess of 300lb. I finished, replacing the barbell on the shoulder-high squat stand or so I thought. The stand was not aligned right .It tilted sideways as I released the weight and as the weight crashed to the floor the stand was pulled rapidly down by it pausing on its way to hit the stooping me on the head and catching me on the hand.
If you wanted to dramatise it , it might be compared to being hit on the head by a 20 stone man with an iron bar from a short distance. I thought I'd better take a break. We've had enough by- elections recently
When the family saw me with a lump as though a tennis ball had been buried in my scalp I was advised to pop into A&E. So clutching a plastic bag filled with ice cubes to my temple and bleeding from my finger I was run there and tested by some very nice jolly staff who established so far as we could tell that there was no skull or brain damage.At any rate I could still recall who the Prime Minister and reigning monarch was. I left a wiser man with a determination to avoid photo opportunities for a few days.
This will be enough for the amnesty to achieve its real objective - photos of a smiling Minister in front of an impressive looking array of guns claiming that the government have "taken action".
But make no mistake the serious criminals will continue to roam the streets without any fear of being stopped and searched, (human rights) and knowing that even if by some chance they are found in poossession of a gun or knife the sentence will be minimal.
The toll of death will continue to rise.