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  4. Sixty seconds with...Dame Kate Barker

Sixty seconds with...Dame Kate Barker


Published: 2 April 2015 | Author: Bernard Clarke

We are now taking final bookings for the last places at our forthcoming annual lunch, at which housing economist Dame Kate Barker will deliver the keynote address.

The annual lunch, which many believe to be the must-attend event in the mortgage industry's calendar, is this year sponsored by Kensington Mortgages and will take place at the Lancaster London Hotel on 17 April.  The lunch will be preceded by a drinks reception, sponsored by Sopra Banking Software.

Dame Kate will give her address, following a welcome to guests from our chairman, Moray McDonald, of The Royal Bank of Scotland.

Currently a senior adviser to Credit Suisse and a non-executive director of Yorkshire Building Society, as well as to Electra Private Equity and Taylor Wimpey, Dame Kate was also a member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee from 2001 until 2010.

During that period, she led two major policy reviews for the government. The first, on housing supply, was published in 2004 and was followed, in 2006, by her review on land use planning. Last year, she led a quality review of the national accounts for the Office for National Statistics, and published her short book Housing: Where's the Plan?, which we reviewed last December.

Dame Kate was recently appointed as chairman of trustees for the British Coal staff superannuation fund.  She is also chair of the Society of Business Economists, a non-executive board member at the Office for Budget Responsibility – and, in her spare time, a keen Stoke City fan.

To whet the appetite of those looking forward to the lunch, we recently spent 60 seconds with Dame Kate.

Sixty seconds...Dame Kate Barker's answers                  02.04.2015 News & View Kate Barker

CML: The huge challenges for policymakers were neatly summed up in your book, Housing: Where’s the Plan? Are you confident we’ll get a plan that will work?

It seems unlikely that we will get either a very big increase in new supply, or a major move to a fairer system. The best we can hope for is a bit of both, plus a more radical approach to low-cost home-ownership that involves the use of public land.

CML: Have things got any better since you wrote your Review of UK Housing Supply in 2004?

The planning system has improved in many ways, and the administrative costs have been streamlined somewhat. But local opposition to new homes remains strong. The Office for National Statistics forecast a rise in England’s population of 16% by 2037 – where will they fit? 

CML: What sort of contribution can lenders make? Can they deliver?

Lending capacity for home-ownership or for landlords does not seem to be a problem in the current market – but the post-crisis adjustment is not yet complete and there are potential potholes in the road. 

CML: It’s no secret that a lot of senior executives in the mortgage industry are men. Does gender in the financial services sector matter?

I believe there is evidence that on average men and women have a different attitude to risk. But I’ve yet to see any systematic analysis suggesting that either sex is clearly better at managing financial services businesses.

CML: On a lighter note, you must be pleased with Stoke City’s results under Mark Hughes. Do you get to see many games? If not, what do you do to relax?

Sadly, it’s too far to get to the Britannia stadium as often as I’d like. My other pastime is bell-ringing – not, in fact, that relaxing!