As the New Year commences, Property Week spoke to Barry Jessup about his hopes and aspirations for 2021. He said “My biggest hope is that last year’s obsession with knee-jerk short-termism can be replaced by some genuine investment in future growth. We need to stop trying to prop up failing businesses and focus on supporting growth sectors and start-ups. The furlough scheme had some merit, but also resulted in many unviable businesses getting a stay of execution.
In contrast, start-ups and the self-employed have received precious little help and this will inevitably suppress their growth. We need to pump prime businesses in the growth sectors, and one of the few benefits of Brexit is that the UK will be able to unashamedly do this.
The same applies to the high street. The misguided policy of providing blanket rental relief to retailers has resulted in many failing businesses boosting their cash balances at the expense of property investors, many of them pensioners or local governments.
I hope these policies will be reversed in 2021, focusing on business rate windows or discounts for smaller high street users, and a centralised investment bank to support their bounce-back. Prospects for the high street can improve, but not by focusing on the past”.
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