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Scottish Property Federation conference

Property chief warns SNP over threat to investors

Paul Curran

Paul Curran: call for reform (photo by Terry Murden – DB Media Services)

Call for closer co-operation

A senior figure in the property industry today warned the Scottish government that its rent control policies are deterring investment in the housing sector.

Paul Curran, chairman of the Scottish Property Federation, said there needed to be reforms to rent caps which were unattractive to institutional fund managers.

Speaking ahead of the SPF’s annual conference, he told Daily Business: “£50bn is waiting to be invested in the private rental sector but Scotland has attracted just 2% of that sum. That tells its own story.

“We have rent controls, rent caps. Policies like these prevent institutions from investing in a new and attractive asset class.”

He added: “We are trying to get the government to reform its rent control policies to ensure they don’t deter investors.”

Mr Curran, who is managing director of Quartermile Developments, said overseas investors were crucial to project development and the Brexit decision had clearly added a layer of uncertainty.

“There is also the challenge of a potential second independence referendum.

Keith Brown

Keith Brown: defended record (photo by Terry Murden – DB Media Services)

“Investors are always looking for the best places to put their money and the UK is seen as a stable regime. They have a short period of interest and if there is something that creates additional risk they will look elsewhere.

“It is important that Scotland does not put itself at a disadvantage.”

In his address, Mr Curran said 40% of investment into Scotland was from overseas sources.

He said: “We need strong leadership. We need to be competitive to secure this capital.”

He called for the public and private sectors to work together.

“I am here to make an offer to to work together,” he said.

The conference was attended by more than 200 delegates to hear from broadcaster and former Cabinet Minister Michael Portillo, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP and Scottish Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Keith Brown.

Mr Brown said: “We are saying to to investors that we are creating the conditions that will make Scotland the place of choice.”

He added that foreign direct investment into Scotland was the highest in the UK outside London.

Quizzed over concerns about a second independence referendum, Mr Brown claimed that the biggest worry for business was Brexit. However, a show of hands in the audience showed almost unanimously a greater concern for another independence poll.

He responded to criticism over the alleged impact of land and buildings tax on higher value homes by saying the data pointed to no difference in sales and revenue in the market.

Ruth Davidson

Ruth Davidson: tax plea (photo by Terry Murden)

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said the Scottish economy was under-performing and there was a need for a “more competitive tax regime.”

She said: “My message to the Scottish Government is that after today’s Budget there is £100m of extra spending now available.

“It means the case for council cuts has been substantially eroded.”

 

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