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Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

As we approach the end of October, this leaves only 18 weeks until Article 50 is due to be triggered by the UK Government, with the ongoing Brexit debate continuing. Scotland’s Europe Committee grilled David Mundell on a separate Scottish deal, Nicola Sturgeon called for a single market coalition and the Minister for UK Negotiations for Scotland’s Place in Europe, Mike Russell told Parliament there was no UK exit plan. And as if that wasn’t enough, there was also the small matter of a leaked Theresa May tape.

 

In construction news, the UK government announced its support for a new runway at Heathrow. The decision is expected to create up to 77,000 additional local jobs, but Scotland will also benefit. The Scottish Government formally backed the decision last month under the belief the move would create a Scottish hub to deal with cross-border flights and see increased spending in the country. Elsewhere, while the Heathrow decision will see more people flying high in the coming years, members of Holyrood’s finance committee were concerned about things going in a different direction when they questioned Derek Mackay who confirmed his belief that the stamp duty replacement had not caused a ‘nosedive’ in Scotland’s property sector.

 

Nicola Sturgeon met with 150 business and public sector leaders in Edinburgh on Wednesday to call for a Scotland wide coalition to remain in the single market. As Mike Russell updated Parliament on recent Scottish Government activity on Brexit negotiations, Ms Sturgeon used the National Economic Forum to get her message across.  The rallying call will add further pressure to Theresa May and support the SNP’s increased drive for a second independence referendum as they attempt to change public, and in this case, vital business and public sector sentiment. It remains to be seen how successful they will be.

 

Theresa May hosted a Brexit summit with the UK’s devolved administrations on Monday, a meeting overshadowed by her warning to Nicola Sturgeon not to undermine Brexit negotiations with independence threats. However, it was a different thorn in her side that replaced the SNP later in the week in the form of a leaked tape. The Guardian published audio of a private talk where she warned Goldman Sachs about the negative impacts of a Brexit vote, one month prior to the referendum. While embarrassing for the PM, it goes much deeper, and supports concerns that she continues to drive ahead with negotiations while ignoring her own private fears and those from many within the Conservative Party.

 

Elsewhere, the ONS announced that the UK economy grew by 0.5% in the three months after the Brexit vote, Kezia Dugdale was voted Member of the Year, an award for elected politicians, for the LGBT news site Pink News and Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s Transport Minister called for the full devolution of Network Rail. Ruth Davidson was named Politician of the Year at The Herald awards, the first Conservative to win the title after Nicola Sturgeon won the award for four consecutive years.  Ruth Davidson was also recognised with the Donald Dewar Debater of the Year award for her debate with Boris Johnson on the EU pre Brexit.

 

Finally, it wasn’t just the Brexit debate under scrutiny this week as it was announced that an independent commission is to review the workings of the Scottish Parliament. The report, which is expected to be submitted in 2017 will give the Scottish Parliament’s systems a much needed refresh, or in the words of Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh “an MOT”.

 

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Cruden offers ‘one stop shop new home event’ for first time buyers

Cruden offers ‘one stop shop new home event’ for first time buyers

Cruden Homes is hosting a special ‘one stop shop new home event’ aimed at first time buyers, to offer them all the help and advice they need to step on to the property ladder and buy their dream new home.

 

First time buyers need to consider a number of things when buying a new home:

  • Affordability – can I afford it, am I eligible for Help to Buy?
  • Mortgage – will I qualify for a mortgage, what type and how much will it cost?
  • Other costs – what other monthly bills will I have?
  • Design – how do I make it my home in my style for my budget?

 

Now, first time buyers can get answers to these questions and take a stress free route to home ownership at this exclusive weekend event which will be held from 12pm – 4pm on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th October at Cruden’s popular Baron’s Vale development in Glasgow’s thriving East End, where only a few properties remain for sale.

 

Potential first time buyers will get a wealth of advice and support from Cruden’s award winning sales team, interior designers and a ‘whole of market’ Independent Financial Advisor (IFA).  The Cruden team will explain the Help to Buy Scheme, qualify applicants and manage the entire process for them on behalf of Scottish Government.

 

The one stop shop event will also provide information on all the associated costs involved with buying a home and visitors will be able to view the plans for Cruden’s newest show home and even get expert advice on how to decorate their new home, tailored to their individual budget!

 

Homes at Baron’s Vale will be complete in March 2017 and are being sold off plan.  All the homes qualify for the Government-backed Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme which allows buyers to own a home with only a 5% deposit.

Buying ‘off plan’ is ideal for first time buyers – it allows homebuyers to plan their house move in detail.  Cruden’s structured purchase plan can support those looking to buy of their estimated monthly mortgage payments, deposit required and all the other costs associated with home ownership.   What’s more, it gives first time buyers time to save for the perfect sofa, bedding or curtains for their new home!

Liz Mallon, Sales & Marketing Director of Cruden Homes West, explains: “This unique event will really help any first time buyer understand what is fully involved in buying their first home and explain the benefits of the Help to Buy Scheme. The scheme has been designed to meet the needs and affordability of a range of first time buyers, however, many people are still in the dark about how affordable and straightforward buying a new home with this fantastic initiative can be.

 

“We want to give first time buyers all the tools they need to make an informed decision about buying a new home at Baron’s Vale.  Cruden Homes sales staff can take the stress out of home ownership by offering expert assistance with Help to Buy eligibility, affordability and getting them excited about what their new dream home could look like.   This event is the perfect way to start their journey!”

 

Expected to be a very popular event, Cruden’s interior designers will be on hand with lots of layout designs, wallpaper and fabrics to see on the day.  First time buyers should visit the Cruden Baron’s Vale sales and information suite, MacDuff Street, off London Road, G31 4PN from 12pm-4pm on Saturday 29 October and Sunday 30 October.

 

Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

The temperature dropped across Scotland this week, heralding the approach of winter and reminding us of the increasingly frosty relations between Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May. The former announced plans for her Government’s second independence referendum putting the reasoning firmly in the hands of the UK Government, while Mrs May told the European Council on Thursday that there would be no second EU referendum. Tellingly, there was no date on Team Nicola’s draft Bill.

 

Kezia Dugdale may have come out of the cold within the Labour Party but the country’s leading polling expert warned that her party may yet have a meltdown – and end up in fourth place – if the expected performance at next year’s council elections is accurate. Elsewhere, Scotland’s political boundaries map could be redrawn and the Brexit debate continued as the Scottish government held talks in Brussels. Meanwhile, Scotland’s sole UKIP elected politician, the colourful MEP David Coburn stated he would consider standing for his party leadership.

 

And so to independence. As trailed in last week’s report, the Scottish government published its draft bill on a second independence referendum on Thursday. The document, which is now out for public consultation until 11 January 2017, invites views on the proposals for how the referendum would be run. In her foreword, Nicola Sturgeon makes it clear the referendum mandate comes from UK Government’s actions following the Brexit vote, stating: “The UK Government’s recent statements on its approach to leaving the EU raise serious concerns for the Scottish Government.” While a second referendum is a long way off, there are already murmurings among the SNP’s ranks that the decision to kick-start proceedings has happened too quickly.

 

Theresa May met with the European council on Thursday to make clear to Europe’s leaders that the EU vote is irreversible. Her presence will cause difficulties for Donald Tusk, the European council president, who will want to avoid a debate on EU membership. He has made it clear that EU leaders may not respond, instead allowing Mrs May to outline the current situation in the UK. In a separate move, External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Brexit secretary Michael Russell attended talks in Brussels to discuss Scotland’s place in the EU.

 

And since last week, Labour has fallen 18 points behind the Conservatives in the UK polls, and an adviser to Jeremy Corbyn called on the Scottish party to back Scottish independence and get rid of Kezia Dugdale. In an article for the New Statesman, Paul Mason argued Labour had to “get real” about the situation in Scotland. That situation could get worse as outlined in an exclusive article in The Herald. Professor John Curtice said recent council by-election results had been “uniformly appalling” for Labour and warned that the party would suffer a 13 per cent swing to the SNP at next year’s council elections. Scottish Labour is at a real cross roads at the moment and the next months will really shape the future of the Party’s place on Scotland’s political map, which could itself change.

 

On that note, the Boundary Commission has set out plans to reduce the number of Scottish MPs from 59 to 53. While the SNP are angered by the plans, it is Labour with most to lose – Ian Murray MP, Labour’s only Scottish MP would see his seat disappear.

 

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Glasgow-based personal protection start-up secures new £744,000 investment

Glasgow-based personal protection start-up secures new £744,000 investment

A Glasgow-based personal protection start-up which has designed an innovative new personal attack and lone worker alarm has secured investment of more than £800,000.

Pick Protection, which was founded in 2014 by 23 year old Rebecca Pick, has built on the £60,000 of investment secured from an angel investment syndicate last year with a further £744,000 this month as the company moves closer to launching its Personal Guardian product to market.

There are currently six million lone workers in the UK, yet only five percent of them have protection through monitored safety alarms.  The Personal Guardian will be the only monitored personal attack alarm readily available to the consumer market that is capable of sending a police response.

The investment is led by Equity Gap Angel Investment Syndicate, and other backers include the University of Strathclyde, Gabriel Investment Syndicate, Scottish Investment Bank and Unipart Group. The latter will also help with the product’s delivery.

Rebecca Pick, founder and CEO of Pick Protection, who developed the idea for the Personal Guardian following an attack on a neighbour, said: “This is the first time that such a high level of protection will be available at such a reasonable price. Before now, users had to make the choice between good and affordable. The Personal Guardian will tick both boxes.”

The latest raft of funding will see the Personal Guardian launched within the UK in early 2017.  The Personal Guardian will be manufactured in Scotland and will retail at £119.99 for the device which includes the first 12 months’ monitoring service.

The small discreet device weighing just 12g and measuring 6cm x 3.5cm is a wearable monitored alarm that combines with smart phone technology to provide the police with information on the user’s exact location.  The Personal Guardian can be easily attached to a belt, lanyard or clothing and will send a text containing the location to pre-determined phone contacts and via a recording system, gathering evidence than can be used in court to assist in gaining a conviction.

The device is activated by pressing two buttons on either side, turning the user’s mobile phone into a recording device and using its GPS to give police the wearer’s exact location. The recording allows staff at a monitoring station to confirm whether the attack warrants police assistance, and it can also be used as evidence at a later date, if required, which could prove vital. It can also alert family and friends by sending them a text message.

John Neill, Chairman and Chief Executive at Unipart Group said:

“Unipart is delighted to be supporting a young entrepreneur like Rebecca with the passion and drive to make a difference.”

Perceptive Communicators celebrating success with another award win

Perceptive Communicators celebrating success with another award win

Specialist communications consultancy Perceptive Communicators is celebrating following an evening of success at last night’s 2016 Chartered Institute of Public Relations Pride Awards where the team scooped the Outstanding Small Public Relations Consultancy category.  This follows several other accolades, including Best Press & PR in the UK, Growth Business of the Year and best Healthcare and Pharma campaign for its public affairs work.

Established in 2006, Perceptive is a multi-award winning full service communications consultancy focused on driving better results for clients through better communication in construction, economic development, technology, professional services, life sciences and travel.

The award win comes at the ideal time for the consultancy as it gears up for its 10 year anniversary next month.

Jenifer Stirton, Chair of CIPR in Scotland said: “Perceptive Communicators demonstrated a firm grasp of business strategy together with a commitment to only employ senior people – a distinctive offer for clients. The judges were particularly impressed with the way they added value to their client offer with political updates by email, networking events for executives and clear evaluation of commercial impact. A clear and highly deserving winner.”

Julie McLauchlan, managing director and founder of Perceptive Communicators, said: “Perceptive is deliberately different, employing an exclusively expert team, each with over 10 years and all of whom have been clients themselves. This means we hit the ground running and deliver better client results.  This latest award win is a great reflection of our super-talented team and our results focus for clients. I’m very pleased that our unique, innovative and integrated approach has set us apart and been recognised.”

Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

Halloween may be a couple of weeks away but British consumers got their first scare of October with increased food costs – and missing items – as a result of the weak post-Brexit pound. While not at the level of post-Glasnost food shortages, the battle of the shopping aisles between Tesco and Unilever followed comments made by The British Retail Consortium who warned a UK Government failure to get a good Brexit deal would increase the price of consumer goods. In political terms, Brexit questioning by Labour illustrated that all is not rosy within the Conservative ranks, while Nicola Sturgeon opened the SNP conference on Thursday with sabre rattling talk on the battle against “hard Brexit” and Conservative “xenophobia”. And as if that wasn’t enough, there was also the small matter of plans for the second independence referendum being announced.

 

Jeremy Corbyn, who acknowledged that some intimidation took place in his party’s ranks, this week insisted he was tackling bullying within Labour. Elsewhere, his party released a list of 170 questions regarding Brexit, calling on the UK Government to answer them all prior to EU exit negotiations. And Scottish independence once more found itself thrust into the political spotlight, with a poll on Scottish sentiment post-Brexit published on the same morning Nicola Sturgeon announced an Independence Referendum Bill will be published for consultation next week. We’ll have more on that in next week’s Insider.

 

In a mixed week for the economy and construction, Scotland’s chief statistician found the Scottish economy grew by 0.4% in the second quarter of this year, while construction output contracted by 1.9%. If the figures tell us anything, it’s that there can be no doubt that Scottish construction operators faced challenges and uncertainty following the Brexit vote.

 

And so to Marmite. Love it or hate, it followed PG Tips and Pot Noodles as items removed from the shelves of Tesco. Their supplier, Unilever, cited uncertainty post-Brexit and the fall in Sterling which lead to a 10 per cent increase in prices – an increase Tesco is reluctant to accept. The situation lead to significant Twitter activity, with many starting to realise the potential implications of Brexit.

 

Labour claimed victory after it planned to hold a debate on EU exit discussions in the hope Conservative MPs would back calls to review exit plans before article 50 was triggered, a move which forced Theresa May to climb down over MP’s scrutiny of Brexit plans. MPs will now be able to review the plan after she feared members of her own party may revolt.  What the move signals is the agreement by Conservative whips that their MPs may have backed a Labour motion for a “full and transparent debate on the government’s plans to leave the EU” meaning that proper scrutiny of the plans will now have to take place before article 50 is triggered.

 

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon opened the SNP conference by confirming that the Independence Referendum Bill will be published for consultation next week. On a day which also saw Angus Robertson announced as deputy leader, Nicola Sturgeon has made it as clear as day that if the UK Government ignore Scottish interests, Scotland will do all it can to take a different path. But there remains a long way to go, not least when taking Scottish sentiment into account. A BMG survey for The Herald found that even Scotland’s removal from the single market under a ‘hard Brexit’ deal would lead to only 12 per cent of voters currently against a second referendum to back one. In a week which saw a number of figures released, those from the poll findings could yet be the most important.

 

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

The truth about working from home

The truth about working from home

by Anna Chambers, PR & Social Media Manager

When I first started working at Perceptive, and told people that I often work from home, I got all sorts of reactions. They ranged from envy (“you’re so lucky!”) to disbelief (“how do you get anything done? I’d be too tempted to just put a washing on!”) to misunderstanding (“I couldn’t work from home – I’d feel too isolated.”).

As I converted a spare room in my house into an office in preparation for starting my new job, I couldn’t help feeling a little nervous. What if I do feel lonely? What if I do find it hard to focus? However, I’ve been working at home for the past 18 months now and it turns out I had nothing to worry about. I don’t feel in the least isolated – if I need to bounce an idea off someone, my colleagues are always there at the other end of the phone or on Google Chat. At least two or three days every week I have a meeting with a client, so it’s never just me on my own in the house all week. And I am most definitely far too busy to do any housework!

The opportunity for home working was a major reason that our MD Julie McLauchlan was a finalist in this year’s Institute of Directors awards in the family friendly working category. Without a doubt, the best thing about being home-based is the extra time I can spend with my children. Although my children are never in the house while I’m actually working, my daughter is in Primary 2 and her little brother has just started school nursery, so I can drop them off in the morning and still be at my desk for 9am. Mornings in our house are now a much calmer and more relaxed affair. I didn’t realise how much stress commuting caused until I stopped doing it! Since starting at Perceptive I have also found time and energy to exercise again – which had been another casualty of the daily commute.

I’ve also rarely been ill – probably because I don’t have colleagues feeling under pressure to come into work when they’re sick and passing on their bugs to the whole office. And if I do have a cough or cold I can sneeze away to my heart’s content without feeling bad about infecting anyone else.

As you can probably tell I’m a complete convert to home working and don’t understand why more companies don’t do it. If they are worried about loss of productivity, this is another misconception – if you have an employee that you trust and who is self-motivated, the chances are they will be more productive at home.

In fact, evidence suggests that home workers are actually more likely to devote more time to their work, which makes complete sense to me. When there’s a deadline to be met, as there inevitably is from time to time in any job, a little extra work from the comfort of your own home once the kids are in bed hardly feels like work at all when compared to being the last one out of the office on a cold dark night, with a long drive home still ahead of you.

Our plan is that Perceptive will soon have an office in Glasgow.  We’ll use this as a hub which will be particularly good for getting the whole team together to share ideas and build our culture a few days a week and we will still be home-based for the rest of the time – so hopefully this will be the best of both worlds.

Restoration work complete on iconic Glasgow building

Restoration work complete on iconic Glasgow building

Work is now complete on an iconic B-listed building in Glasgow’s Tradeston area, which was saved from falling into serious disrepair by a group of home and business owners, the building’s factor Speirs Gumley, and grant funding from Glasgow City Council.

The building at 33 Dalintober Street/53 Morrison Street was originally designed in 1919 by architect James Ferrigan as a warehouse for the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society, completed in 1933. It sits immediately beside the very prominent Co-operative House, which is adjacent to the Kingston Bridge on the south side of the River Clyde. The building was converted to 60 flats and 4 commercial units in 1999.

After a survey discovered that the building would deteriorate rapidly if the almost 100-year-old roof was not completely replaced at a cost of £1.135 million, Speirs Gumley successfully applied for an emergency grant of £576,000 from Glasgow City Council. With this financial assistance in place, Speirs Gumley was then able to gain approval from the homeowners and business owners to pay their share of the remaining costs. Within just 12 weeks, the money had been raised and the vital repairs began in August 2015.

As well as replacing the roof, improvements were also made to the underground car park and stairwells along with a refurbishment of the façade.

The newly restored building was ready just in time to host Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing, on 21 September as he launched Under One Roof – a major new free website designed to help private flat owners with the complex and important task of carrying out shared repairs. The building was chosen as a venue because it is a working example of best practice and what can be achieved when owners, property managers and local authorities pull together.

Lorraine MacDonald, owner of Speirs Gumley said: “In my entire property management career I’ve never seen anything like the dedication and determination of the Owner Focus Group to raise the money needed to save their beautiful building from deterioration. My team at Speirs Gumley have also gone well above and beyond the call of duty to make this happen, and the chartered building surveyors, Wiseman Associates Limited and contractors GDN Contracts have also done a wonderful job.”

Councillor George Redmond, Executive Member for Jobs and Investment at Glasgow City Council, said: “It’s great to see the restoration of this splendid building, another symbol of the regeneration of Tradeston, and an enterprise that all involved should be proud of.  I am delighted that the council supported this project, which saved an important part of Glasgow’s built heritage for future generations.”

Iain Thomson, a key member of the building’s Owner Focus Group said: “I’m over the moon that the works to our historic building are complete and also with how fantastic the building looks. Everyone involved has done a tremendous job and it’s lovely to know that the future of the building has been secured for many years to come, because at the end of the day it’s not just our home, it’s a very important part of Glasgow’s architectural history.”

Greig Douglas of chartered building surveyors Wiseman Associates Limited said: “This has been a very rewarding project for us to work on, especially with this being such an iconic building in a very prominent location. It’s great to see the scaffolding down and the building looking glorious again.”

David Kerr of GDN Contracts said: “This was one of the biggest and most exciting restorations that we have ever worked on and I am very proud that we completed the repairs on budget on a project of this magnitude.”

 

Glasgow’s new satellite business district and one of UK’s largest office parks set to create 12,000 new jobs

Glasgow’s new satellite business district and one of UK’s largest office parks set to create 12,000 new jobs

Commercial property developer Highbridge Properties has today launched what will be a new satellite business district for Glasgow and one of the UK’s largest office parks, at the former Shawfield development in Clyde Gateway.

The development, branded Magenta at Clyde Gateway, will comprise 1.2 million square feet of office space set on 27 acres next to the River Clyde and M74 motorway network and just ten minutes from Glasgow’s city centre.

 

Magenta is the largest office development with planning consent in Scotland and will create a new national business district for the Central Belt.  It is estimated that the development will bring at least 12,000 new jobs to the area.  Clyde Gateway has invested £20m in public realm and infrastructure works to the site to ensure it is development-ready.

 

Highbridge – Clyde Gateway’s development partner for Magenta – has strong credentials in this field.  Formed in 1988, the specialist business park developer has successfully developed over 13 million square feet of office and industrial space, including Cobalt, the largest office park in the UK. Situated near Newcastle, Cobalt employs over 14,000 people and is home to numerous blue chip companies including Hewlett Packard, Proctor & Gamble, Accenture, EE and Santander.

 

Magenta will provide a value for money addition to the Scottish economy – with Grade A office space that offers savings of 37 percent on similar new-build offices in city centre locations, and 28 percent on similar refurbished city centre offices.  High density organisations, such as shared services and customer contact centres can make even greater savings, as buildings can be designed to meet their exact requirements and achieve very efficient occupational densities.

 

Adrian Hill, director of Highbridge Properties PLC said:  “When I first saw this site it reminded me of London Docklands in the early years – so much potential and so close to the city centre.  Magenta is a very compelling option for businesses, boasting superb connectivity, infrastructure and value for money.

 

He added:  “The location is first class – a stunning riverside development that’s just ten minutes from the city centre, 15 minutes from Glasgow Airport, two minutes from the M74, and with ample parking available on site.  As the site can accommodate large modern floorplates, Magenta offers flexible and bespoke solutions which can be tailored to meet a company’s exact needs.”

 

Ian Manson, Chief Executive at Clyde Gateway said:  “This is an extremely exciting time for the Clyde Gateway area and I am delighted to have appointed Highbridge as our commercial development partner – a company with a fantastic track record in delivering high quality business parks”.

 

“Magenta will give the local economy and employment market a phenomenal boost.  It will also attract new inward investment to Scotland and stimulate economic growth.”

 

“Neighbouring the Magenta site, Police Scotland has already seen the massive benefits of locating over 1,000 administrative, finance, and IT staff here and more and more companies are seeing first-hand why this area is such an attractive proposition for investment and the ideal location to do business.”

 

It is expected that, as well as office space, Magenta will support a number of shops, cafes, a gym and business centre.

Cushman & Wakefield and Savills have been appointed as joint marketing agents on the development.

Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

It has been said that Autumn begins as the party conference season draws to a close, and there were certainly darkening skies over the opposition benches as Theresa May wrapped up the Tory gathering in Birmingham on Wednesday.  As all sides try to make sense of the Brexit puzzle, Home Secretary Amber Rudd got a standing ovation as she promised more British jobs for British workers.  Nicola Sturgeon reaffirmed her Government’s commitment to Scottish-domiciled EU workers – and her UK counterparts refused to rule out package holidaymakers needing visas to visit Spain or Greece in the near future.

 

And against all this, the slow motion car crash that is currently the UK Labour Party saw another Corbyn reshuffle – and the party’s sole Scottish MP (Ian Murray) ‘undecided’ over whether to become shadow Scottish Secretary.

 

Closer to home, the week began with a flurry of mixed housebuilding and construction news, perfectly illustrating the fast-changing nature of the sector.

 

As we approach next week’s ONS construction output stats, the UK construction PMI showed growth in September, a welcome sign following a period of uncertainty following the Brexit vote. Yet with private sector home rentals now the largest provider of rental properties, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors called on the Government to incentivise help to rent and other initiatives to mitigate a shortfall in rental homes. Housing was also the flag raised up the poll to signal a significant shift in Conservative policy.

 

And there will be no more attempts to balance the books by 2020, at least none which will be publicly announced. Chancellor Philip Hammond will instead look to increase the supply of housing, a significant policy shift. During his speech to conference, Mr Hammond agreed the policies of his predecessor “were the right ones for that time” but his announcement of £2bn for housebuilding alongside a £3bn fund to provide loans to small housebuilders illustrates a pragmatic if non-comital approach to deficit reduction.

 

Back in Birmingham, the Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies may have had Bran Flakes on his mind as he confused ‘breakfast’ with and not Brexit during his big speech, whilst a barnstorming Ruth Davidson claimed that the SNP does not speak for Scotland after Nicola Sturgeon said a second independence vote was highly likely. Indyref2 opinion in Scotland may well grow, particularly given Theresa May’s at best hard-line and at worst dismissive approach to pro-EU Scottish sentiment. Mrs May said that Article 50 negotiations will be triggered next March, with no “opt out” for Scotland. Scotland’s Brexit minister Michael Russell went as far as to call her “arrogant”.

 

However, despite everything outlined this week at Birmingham, it was Amber Rudd who stole the show – although not for reasons she would have liked. A “British jobs for British workers” policy (not to mention her plans for a crackdown on overseas students) which included listing all foreign workers employed by organisations set Twitter ablaze. ‘Shocking’, ‘racist’ and ‘ignorant’ were all words used, but Kezia Dugdale went further, tweeting Ruth Davidson: ‘Making firms list foreign workers? Is this your modern Britain?’ Yet instead of questioning the anti-immigration rhetoric, Labour’s press office Twitter feed played up to it. Questioning the Conservatives record on immigration instead of challenging it – its only public comment – led some of its supporters to accuse the Party of sending out the wrong message and of lacking a strong opposition.

 

Elsewhere, Diane James left UKIP’s leadership position after just 18 days in charge. It was also announced that subject to Parliamentary approval, the Draft Budget 2017-18 will be introduced to Parliament on December 15th while the Holyrood’s local government committee is set to vote on proposed council tax increases, a move opposed by opposition parties.

 

 

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Devin Scobie on 07900 397 872 or devin.scobie@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

 

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