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Brexit or Bremain?

Posted 06/06/16

Whilst the great and the good of the social housing sector gear up for yet another CIH Conference later this month, the week before sees the nation take to the polls to decide our fate within, or indeed, without the EU.

We at Andersen James have a lot invested in the outcome of EU Referendum and we’ll be keeping a keen eye on the results on the 23rd June.

AJ as a social housing stakeholder…

Collectively Andersen James has over 25 years experience operating within the social housing sector. We’re passionate about good housing, advocates of innovation and have a genuine interest in seeing the industry as a whole continue to positively support the lives of individuals and communities in this country.

The ups and downs of the sector as a whole have been well documented, with recession, public sector cuts, changes to legislation and widespread reforms all posing significant challenges in the not too distant past, but the EU referendum has the potential to trigger the most significant change to the industry seen in a generation. Whilst it’s immigration, farming quotas and roaming charges that grab the headlines, housing should be a vital consideration for all voters.

We feel the link between immigration and housing demand is too simplistic, but it’s certainly a factor. If demand for housing goes down as a result of less net EU migration, how will that effect Registered Providers? Will there still be the same sharp focus on affordable house building? And will housing associations that are often reliant on diversifying their income via EU grant funded projects still have the same access to the level of monies they currently do?

As a recruiter…

At Andersen James, we work in partnership with organisations to source the best talent. As a recruiter, we can say from first hand experience that the dynamics of the recruitment market have already changed by the very debate, regardless of outcome.

As the date comes closer, employers are getting cautious. What will happen if we Vote Leave? How significant will that impact the economy?

Any major economic shock has an affect on the job market. The likely short-term effect on the UK’s economy will be a negative one, regardless of outcome. And employers are being prudent, biding their time and remaining flexible in case of a longer-term economic downturn, reduction in investment or new legislation to contend with.

Practically, this means we are being engaged on more temporary and interim roles at Andersen James. The flexibility that this offers employers cannot be underestimated. Some of our other partners are choosing a different, more opportunistic approach. Whilst others wait and see, they are taking advantage of the caution of their competitors and retaining us to seek out the best individuals. They are hiring strategically in to roles that fit the long-term business plan, regardless of immediate market conditions.

Alongside this are question marks over the effect of a vote to leave the EU on workers rights (including Working Time Directive), employment law, supply of international talent in to specialist roles and the effect on an economy that is heavily reliant on lower-paid EU migrant labour.

As an SME…

A third perspective that we’ve considered is that of an SME. At Andersen James we’ve gone from strength to strength and enjoyed sustained growth quarter on quarter since our launch last year.

So how will the vote affect our business? It’s fair to say that we’ll have to consider changes in HR legislation if we vote to leave, ensuring our staff continue to have the protection to which they are entitled. We don’t trade with other EU countries, so that’s not a consideration, at least in the short term. But we do have a plethora of clients who rely, wholly or partly, on EU funding for projects. Will our pipeline of business grow or contract? How does that affect our own hiring decisions? These are all serious considerations.

So, where does that leave us all?

In a media-savvy world where we are consistently prey to myriad ‘facts’ it’s extremely difficult for us all to digest the information we’re presented and thus form our own opinion.

And whilst we hope that the information above triggers some thought, we’re not looking to influence or persuade one way or the other. What we do feel strongly about is that regardless of if we remain in or leave the EU, it will have an impact upon us as individuals and the sector in which we all care passionately about.

So whichever way you decide to vote, ensure your voice and the voices of your staff are heard. You never know, your vote might just be the one that swings it…