Neil Armstrong

CEO and Chair. Neil Armstrong looks at the UK economy in light of recent Government announcements

“To say that the coronavirus pandemic has put business under pressure would be a huge understatement.

However, as is often said – necessity is the mother of invention and I am sure that the new ways of thinking and working, to which we have all had to adapt, will bear future fruit.

Encouragingly, I see evidence of this in government thinking. The measures announced by a number of Ministers – including the PM – over the past few weeks, show not only a realisation that investment is needed to kick start the economy but also an acknowledgement that this is a great opportunity to grow a greener economy.

As a company which is committed to Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) I sincerely hope that many of the green shoots of recovery grow into genuinely green businesses.

From our group’s perspective the following announcements were particularly interesting:

• The PM’s ‘New deal – build, build, build’ speech on June 30th when he pledged £5 billion for a huge infrastructure programme. This includes new homes – key areas for Partner and United Living New Homes. As a business delivering over 1,000 new homes to social housing providers each year, we clearly welcome the boost. New road building could also provide opportunities for Fastflow Energy Services which supports high pressure gas pipeline diversions in support of construction.

• The Chancellor’s commitment to invest £3 billion in green jobs, made on July 7th, included a £50 million, innovative pilot project to retrofit social housing with energy saving measures. This is a win win initiative, which will not only provide work but also deliver far more energy efficient homes and much lower bills for residents, as we strive to reach a carbon zero status by 2050. United Living will be looking to support this initiative.

• Our property services business is actively engaged in a number of low carbon initiatives. They were the recent winners of an Energiesprong competition to design an energy efficient retrofit solution combined with a roof top development for Croydon Council – the outcome is a zero carbon scheme that will also create an additional 296 homes for social rent. Other initiatives include working with Turner Townsend on a Mayor of London led Retrofit Accelerator Programme as well as trialling electrical vehicles on a recently won responsive repairs contract with London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham’.

• Robert Jenrick’s announcement on May 24th that 6,000 new units of accommodation would be created to tackle the rough sleeping crisis also demands the skills we have to offer.

I also welcome the initiative to decarbonise public buildings, including schools and hospitals and the £40 million cash injection for environmental charities and local authorities. This will fund projects to improve the environment in England through tree planting, cleaning up rivers and creating new green spaces.

Assuming the government delivers on all of these pledges – and surely it must – then we, as business owners and managers need to grasp the opportunity to create the outcomes to which the Chancellor has alluded.

I know we at United Living Group will be doing just that.”