I was delighted to be invited by a property lawyer former colleague and Non-Executive Chairman of Irwin Mitchell solicitor’s Business Legal Services, London to the British Council for Offices (BCO) President’s Lunch at The Dorchester yesterday.

It was a great opportunity to catch up briefly with some real estate “old friends” – such as Peter Bill who was editor when I wrote a column for Estates Gazette magazine and who now writes on property for the London Evening Standard (shameless plug for his book “Plant Property” http://www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.asp?bookid=2357 ). There were many lawyers, surveyors and property agents in attendance as well as London’s property development and investment elite. It was also good to meet some new people there.

The main speaker was David Smith (Economics Editor of The Sunday Times, as well as the paper’s Assistant Editor and Policy Advisor http://www.economicsuk.com/blog/ and @dsmitheconomics on Twitter) and here are some highlights and quotes from his economic update:

  • “The age of instability”
  • Double dip (not a triple dip) – GDP grew 0.7% in the second quarter 2013
  • Momentum is building – OECD expects 0.8%-0.9% growth in the UK – and 3%+ in 2014
  • “Construction sector has experienced its biggest acceleration since 2007 – led by housebuilding”
  • 32% year on year growth in commercial order
  • Service sector at a six year high
  • Manufacturing sector experiencing fastest growth since 1994
  • New car registration up for 18 months in a row
  • Employment has seen a net increase of 800,000  – “Business services seeing the biggest growth”.
  • Estimated 17-18m workers in UK offices
  • Bank of England’s “Forward Guidance” is targeting 7% unemployment (currently at 8% or 2.5m)
  • London grown from 18.5% to 21% of the UK economy – “the recovery starts here and ripples out”
  • July 2012 was the turning point and reasons for growth include the reduced risk of a Eurozone crisis and less austerity measures