I am confident that by next year the UK’s vaccine programme will mean the world is very different to the one we see today, with Covid increasingly a memory rather than something we live with on a daily basis. It is that confidence in the recovery that led my business, Built Environment Networking, to launch UKREiiF earlier this year.
As managing director of Built Environment Networking, a Leeds-based SME, the UK’s economic recovery is rarely far from the front of my mind.
By some measures the recession we faced in quarters two and three of 2020 was the largest since the Great Frost of 1709, with a loss of economic output in 2020 almost three times as great as what the UK suffered in the 2008 recession.
With the coming wind-down of Government schemes like furlough, ensuring a strong economic recovery as we move back towards a more normal balance between public and private sector spending has to be a top priority for everyone in the business world.
It is my belief, though, that the economic recovery must be about much more than just getting back to how things were in February 2020. Don’t get me wrong, as a business owner I’m happy whenever I see the green shoots of economic recovery.
But when it comes to charting our way towards a strong, well-performing economy, I believe it is incumbent upon us all to ensure that the next years aren’t just ones of recovery, but ones where everyone and everywhere can thrive. Be it in diversity, economic inclusivity or the environment, the decisions people make in the months ahead could set the UK’s course for a generation.
UKREiiF offers the platform for those decisions to be made. I am thrilled that the UKREiiF Advisory Group is chaired by former head of the UK Civil Service, Lord Kerslake – a vote of confidence in the importance of what we are trying to achieve – and that major public and private sector organisations like Invest Newcastle, Manchester City Council, Lendlease and MEPC are already on board.
This is an event with real momentum – but very importantly for me, it is an event with momentum that we are holding in Leeds. I love Leeds – it is the city I chose to set up my business in, and it is a city where I see positive changes being made on an almost weekly basis.
I remain profoundly grateful for the support Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority have already given us, and I look forward to further cementing UKREiiF’s relationship with the council and Combined Authority in the months ahead.
By bringing UKREiiF, and its thousands of domestic and international delegates, to Leeds next May, I hope Built Environment Networking will be doing its bit to support recovery from Covid and building that better, more diverse, inclusive and environmentally friendly, economy we all want to see.
By Keith Griffiths, Managing Director, Built Environment Networking