We asked a cross-section of our candidates and clients, from all sectors into which we recruit, to give us their views on the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Questions revolved around its immediate outcome for businesses in the property and construction industry, as well as short and long-term predictions for the future of the sector as a whole. Data was collected between 29/06/16 and 07/07/16, in order to give respondents time to review the immediate consequences and to avoid snap decisions.
The results show that the majority of our sample voted to Remain – this is a sentiment that we have seen echoed by many in our industry, both prior to and following the vote. Explanations for this have been varied, but it’s clear that many in the industry saw the potential for another recession in the event of a vote to Leave, fearing a similar contraction in the market to that seen after 2008. This is an industry which was very much in tune with the economic fears broadcast by the “Stronger In” campaign and for many, that was one of the decisive arguments. 99.5% of respondents would still vote the same way as before if given a second chance.
A convincing majority of 74% anticipated negative short-term consequences for the whole industry following the vote, with only 13% foreseeing a positive change. Long-term predictions were much more balanced, with only 42% predicting unfavourable outcomes and 34% remaining optimistic. Less than two weeks on, many firms are reporting increased sales, foreign investment in prime London property is up, and some extremely high-profile projects have been given the green light. Many signs are already pointing towards swift economic recovery and the chance of a recession is, hopefully, slim.
When asked about the future of their employer/company, just over 12% expected theirs to grow following the result, with more than 52% anticipating no change. Early reactions from some employers seemed to support the 35% who anticipated retraction, but with the dust now settling it is likely we’ll see many hiring slowdowns reversed as we get a better picture of the “new normal” for the wider industry.
Interestingly, the number of people willing to relocate versus those unwilling is split fairly evenly, with 54% saying they would be open to looking for something new against 46% who would not. Whether this is down to people wary of taking a risk when they already feel secure, or looking for new opportunities due to uncertainty at their current workplace, this split is nothing out of the ordinary from our viewpoint. There are still plenty of great opportunities available to those keen to pursue them.
Lastly, we asked who our respondents would most like to see take the reins following David Cameron’s resignation. With nearly 36% of the votes, Theresa May was the clear winner, although over 18% stated they’d like to see Cameron stay on as PM. Boris Johnson and David Miliband shared third place with just under 9% of votes each. They were followed by Jeremy Corbyn (7.64%). One recurring name amongst those who selected the “Other” option was Andrea Leadsom, who ended up taking 4.5% of the vote to beat Tom Watson’s 3%. Other names mentioned were Michael Gove, Nigel Farage and Tim Farron, amongst a handful of others.
With 36% of respondents getting their wish with the impending appointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister, it is essential that measures are now taken to restore faith to stakeholders in the property industry in order to speed recovery and encourage continued growth.