December 9 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Our county is today poised for success.
That’s the view of Ipswich Building Society chief executive Paul Winter who believes both town and county are enjoying growth and a return to prosperity after years of economic hardship.
Drawing on his 30 years of experience, Mr Winter said: “Locally the picture is quite rosy. We are close to Europe, London and Cambridge and I see a growing county with growing confidence in the future.
“We are seeing an increase in saving and an increase in mortgage lending and Suffolk is in a good place not only in terms of its countryside and coastal attractions but it is also home to growing industries such as the renewable energy sector and established industries such as BT.
“There is huge potential of Sizewell C which would also be a massive boost to Suffolk’s economy.
“There is a lot going for the local economy. We never had the big downturn seen in the Midlands and in the north and we are seeing the benefits of the economic pick up earlier.”
Mr Winter said he thought the sudden halt in construction work in Ipswich on projects such as the town’s Waterfront developments would only be temporary.
He took over the reigns of the building society in April 2007 – just months before the collapse of Northern Rock which heralded the start of the credit crunch.
He said: “What was not known in 2008-2009 was the extent of the problems faced by the big banks and the extent of the European sovereign debt crisis.
John Dugmore, the chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “We would share Paul’s view that the Suffolk economy indeed has a positive outlook.
“We also know that firms across the county are working harder than ever and that commitment and entrepreneurial spirit makes a big difference in what are challenging economic times.
“The latest economic figures, including those for exporting, are good news but there is much more to do.
“The full roll out of superfast broadband and the much needed upgrading of key infrastructure such as the A14 will ensure our economy is in a stronger place in years to come.”
“Britain has benefited from sterling being a safe haven for investors and the UK is performing better than many other European countries which often surprises people.”
Mr Winter said the building society has noted increases in its membership as people turn away from the big high street banks.
He added: “The banks haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory in recent years.
“We have noticed people are saving more but they are still nervous about that rainy day.
“People are definitely borrowing less in terms of personal debt.
“For example a recent survey showed that 82% of people save up for a holiday rather than put it on the credit card and pay for it later – that is a huge change in behaviour.”
But have we learnt our lesson?
Mr Winter said: “In the short term I think we have learnt lessons. The boom years were based on the easy supply of credit.
“In advance of the 2015 election politicians will need to decide if they can be returned to power without that easy money supply.”
Mr Winter’s view on house price rises House price inflation is rising fast according to latest figures. But is this increase such a good thing? Mr Winter said: “We have a strange view on house price rises. Effectively we want our own house prices to increase but everyone else’s to go down. “The Government has tried to open the door to first time buyers by making property ownership more available. But successive Governments have done nothing about supply. We are in real danger of creating another house price bubble which is in no one’s interest.” Mr Winter said the Ipswich Building Society has spotted increased housing market activity in the region. He added: “It is still the British dream to own your own home but I think renting will become more of a viable option. Mortgage lending is more active than it was but it is no where near 2007 level, it is not even half that.” Mr Winter said people still see buying property as an investment.
Mr Winter’s view on Europe Leaving the European Union would be a disaster for our county’s economy, according to Mr Winter. He said: “The huge problems in countries like Spain and Portugal are still not resolved and there are real dangers there for the future. “I think it would be a very brave Government that suggested we join the Euro currency. I think that debate has ended and I think what we have seen is that a single currency cannot work without single economic and taxation policies. “But the UK is moving in the direction of being part of the EU but moving away from the micro levels of EU regulation. “We cannot afford not to be part of the European Union but we need to have a grown up debate as to what that actually means.”