Economic Briefing – Yorkshire Building Society

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Chamber members received the very latest economic forecasting from a most reliable source recently.

Yorkshire Building Society’s head economist spoke at a joint Bradford Professionals’ Network/Property Forum event at this now annual event.  Andrew McPhillips, who is soon to take up a similar role with the newly-created Northern Powerhouse Partnership, predicted that interest rates could begin to rise as soon as November.  Similar predictions are also being made by other observers, regionally and nationally.

The change is being predicted now due to recent shifts in the meetings of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee.  At the most recent meeting, two of the nine members voted for a rise.

Key aspects of Andrew’s presentation, which can be downloaded below, included the following:

  • Sterling is down 14% since the EU Referendum
  • Unemployment continues to fall, but wage growth is low – the relationship between unemployment, inflation and wages appears to have fundamentally changed
  • Consumer spending continues, even for non-essential items, despite the fall in real wages
  • MPC rhetoric now stronger than in recent years – yet the Bank’s own summary does not acknowledge inflationary pressures
  • London housing market has slowed dramatically – but rest of the country remains resilient
  • Yorkshire economic output reached a two-year high in the summer – well-above the UK average.

Download Andrew’s presentation here.

This event was sponsored by Yorkshire Building Society.

New Chair for the Chamber

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has had a change of personnel within its organisation.

The business support group that covers Bradford, Leeds and York & North Yorkshire sees a shift in its Board of Directors. Gerald Jennings has succeeded Stephen Wright as the group’s Chairman, with Andy Caton coming in as Vice-Chairman.

The changes happened at the organisation’s annual meeting in Bradford yesterday (Wednesday 13 September), when the Chamber’s annual report for 2016-17 was also tabled.

Gerald said of his appointment: “Whatever roles I take on, I try to make a real difference; and that applies in this instance, just like any other.  We are changing the dynamics and therefore the perceptions of Chambers of Commerce, for example with younger people and more women involved in senior positions, and so are reaching out more.  While this is more of a governance role than that of, for example, a Chamber president, I will still be heading up a team of vastly experienced people to help ensure our region’s businesses get the best possible support.  I’m looking forward to the tasks ahead.”

Gerald will chair the Chamber’s board meetings and generally help steer the whole organisation forward. Outside of the chamber, Gerald is involved with numerous other businesses and organisations including Henry Boot, Social Communications, The Tetley and Ahead Partnership. He is also a governor at Leeds City College.

Mike Cartwright, Policy Executive for the Chamber, added after the event:

“Today’s meeting demonstrated that we have some of the region’s finest business people involved in steering the Chamber ship.  They give their time voluntarily to help make our region a better place in which to do business, and we are very grateful for that.  The meeting also highlighted that our organisation is financially robust, had a successful  2016-17 – demonstrated through our published annual report – and is looking forward to tackling the challenges that go with growing our economy and delivering on behalf of our businesses.”

A lunch followed the formal proceedings, at which David Cutter, Skipton Building Society’s Chief Executive, spoke.  He covered three areas in his address: the housing market, the impact of the financial crisis and interest rates.  Lack of supply was a key cause of a currently subdued market; the many regulatory changes to finance since the crash had improved things; and the long period of low rates was a double-edged sword with negative consequences aswell as positive ones. Questions from the floor included whether or not local authorities should be allowed to build more houses, and how technological changes are making life easier for customers.  Asked what one major change should be included in the Autumn Budget, Mr Cutter called for the reduction of stamp duty.

The event took place at Bradford’s Midland Hotel.

Photo: (L-R) Andy Caton, Gerald Jennings, David Cutter


Chamber seeks views from business over devolution proposals

It is now two years since policy makers and politicians submitted proposals to Whitehall to devolve powers and funding to our region and as our northern neighbours in Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Tees Valley commence their journey and flex their new found powers we still await a decision for our part of the country.

The Chamber has today launched a new poll allowing businesses in our region to contribute their views on what could and should be the transfer of significant powers to control our own economic destiny. The devolved nations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales already enjoy the freedom to decide on transport and education funding amongst other things. Greater Manchester now has the ability to fund housing schemes; new planning powers to encourage regeneration and more control over the funding of local transport schemes and the Chamber wants to know whether business would wish to see similar powers devolved to our region.

The survey can be completed here.

We are encouraging all businesses in our region to spare a couple of minutes to share their thoughts.

The Chamber originally contributed to this debate in 2015, you can read our contribution here.