The Government has been accused of “whitewash politics” by Redditch property consultant John Truslove.
And he has urged a re-think over void rates which he claims is a continuing scandal.
“We are hearing that in the West Midlands unemployment is down and manufacturing is up … but this is down to liberal use of the whitewash brush,” said Mr Truslove.
“It remains the survival of the fittest and what progress the manufacturing sector in our region is making is very much down to the fact that so many others have closed their doors. It is scant
comfort to those companies who are no longer with us.”
And, on jobs, Mr Truslove cited the recent appointment of a secretary at his firm.
The advertisement produced 29 applications including some from graduates. There was a shortlist of three people and one was successful.
“That is an indication of the parlous state of the employment market,” warned Mr Truslove. “It is terrible. I wrote to all those who were not successful individually and expressed my sympathies.”
On the commercial property front, Mr Truslove said the rental sector was “reasonable” but it was hard to sell premises, mainly due to the lack of available finance. “You can get commercial
mortgages but only on terms that are extremely tough. As a consequence we find people can’t raise the 20-30 per cent deposit required.”
And he bemoaned the unpredictability of business. “From one week to the next you don’t know what the volume will be.”
Mr Truslove said he accepted that the economic story was completely different in London and the Home Counties. But he saw no evidence of it spreading to the Midlands.
“It is a bit like a bank of lights – only two are switched on and our region is still one of those in the dark," he said.
“From 2007 onwards it has been really tough in the West Midlands. The Government are full of promises but nothing seems to happen in practice. There is too much hot air.”
Lambasting the ongoing problem with void rates, whereby empty offices pay 100 per cent after three months, six months for factories, he urged a re-think - though he did not expect the plea to be
“The amounts they are raising are huge and that will be an important consideration, albeit it is partly robbing Peter to pay Paul, with empty civic buildings costing the state £50 million a year.
“The whole thing is a scandal. Void rates are invidious and spiteful. And it largely hits retired people.”
Mr Truslove added: “They have worked hard all their lives to invest in an office or warehouse for their future.
“But at the moment there is no market for their property and no returns. How many of them are finding the money to pay up I don’t know.
“Void rates are unbelievable and ridiculous legislation.”