EU un­cer­tainty ‘ the big­gest threat’ to fu­ture pros­per­ity

Leeds chief in warn­ing as mu­tual hits record prof­its

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - BERNARD GINNS BUSI­NESS EDITOR ■ Email: bernard. ginns@ ypn. co. uk ■ Twit­ter: @ bernardginns

UN­CER­TAINTY AROUND Bri­tain’s fu­ture mem­ber­ship of the Euro­pean Union against a back­drop of global in­sta­bil­ity is the big­gest threat fac­ing Bri­tain’s pros­per­ity, ac­cord­ing to a lead­ing fig­ure in the UK fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­try.

Leeds Build­ing So­ci­ety chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Hill, who is also chair­man of the Coun­cil of Mort­gage Lenders, also said vot­ers should fo­cus on the long- term view rather than “short- term sound­bites”.

He told “For ex­am­ple, you have got ( the em­ploy­ment min­is­ter) Priti Pa­tel quoted as say­ing that com­ing out of Europe will re­duce the cost of car in­sur­ance for women.

“I would say the right way to look at this is on a multi- gen­er­a­tional ba­sis and not think about short term and rel­a­tively friv­o­lous mat­ters but think in terms of big pic­ture, long term and make a de­ci­sion on that ba­sis.”

Mr Hill added: “Un­cer­tainty is al­ways the big­gest con­cern. Of course, in the first half of 2015 we were pre­par­ing for a gen­eral elec­tion where the out­come was very dif­fi­cult to call and here we are in the first half of 2016 pre­par­ing for a ref­er­en­dum where the out­come is very dif­fi­cult to call.

“So that un­cer­tainty with the back­drop of global in­sta­bil­ity is prob­a­bly the big­gest risk to the UK econ­omy.”

He said that the com­ing months would see much in­for­ma­tion, in­sight and anal­y­sis on the con­se­quences of stay­ing in or get­ting out of the EU and it would be up to mem­bers to make up their own minds.

Mr Hill added: “Per­son­ally, I think there is suf­fi­cient mo­men­tum in the do­mes­tic econ­omy to keep things mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion.”

He made the com­ments as Leeds Build­ing So­ci­ety re­ported record prof­its of £ 108m for 2015 and an­nounced plans to cre­ate 150 new jobs.

The mu­tu­ally- owned len­der in­creased new res­i­den­tial mort­gage lend­ing by 15 per cent to £ 3.1bn.

Sav­ings bal­ances grew by £ 751m to £ 9.9bn, the high­est level in its his­tory. Mr Hill said: “We have had an­other strong year.”

He added that eco­nomic fun­da­men­tals such as em­ploy­ment and earn­ings growth are good but cau­tioned that house price in­fla­tion is mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to get on to the prop­erty lad­der.

Last year, the UK mort­gage mar­ket saw strong com­pe­ti­tion from the ac­tiv­i­ties of chal­lenger banks like Vir­gin Money and TSB, said Mr Hill.

He added: “You have to have the price right and propo­si­tion right to be suc­cess­ful.”

Leeds Build­ing So­ci­ety has in­vested in speed­ing up ser­vices and has shifted its data stor­age from its own servers to a cloud­based sys­tem run by HP En­ter­prises.

Mr Hill wel­comed the ap­point­ment of Bank of Eng­land vet­eran An­drew Bai­ley as the new chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­ity.

He said: “I think he will be bal­anced and pro­por­tion­ate. I think a lot of hard work has been done around regulation...

“I think An­drew is quite a prag­matic per­son and will want to en­gage with the in­dus­try in a di­a­logue. I don’t think he is a per­son who is ei­ther in­clined to or needs to use mega­phone diplo­macy.”

PETER HILL: A need to... ‘ think in terms of big pic­ture, long term and make a de­ci­sion on that ba­sis’.

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