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THE WEEK IN POLICY: Public affairs update - Friday 24 November


Chancellor Jeremy Hunt gives the Treasury’s Autumn Statement

The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt made his Autumn Statement yesterday, aimed at boosting business investment and reforming the welfare system to encourage more people into work. We have outlined the main announcements of interest below.

Directly relevant for BRE and the built environment are:

  • Reform of the planning system to allow local authorities to recover the cost of applications as long as they process them faster

  • £110mn investment in nutrient mitigation schemes to speed up housebuilding (after the Government lost a vote on nutrient neutrality last month)

  • Expansion of VAT relief available on the installation of energy-saving materials in residential buildings or those used solely for a relevant charitable purpose

Measures aimed at business include:

  • Money to increase the number of apprentices in key sectors including engineering

  • Investment zones focussed on advanced manufacturing in the East and West Midlands and Greater Manchester

  • Full expensing of plant and machinery investment made permanent, “the biggest business tax cut in modern British history”

  • Simplification of R&D tax reliefs

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities release £1 billion of the Levelling Up Fund

On Monday (20 November), the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities released its third round of funding for local projects from the Levelling Up Fund. This had been divided between 55 local projects across Great Britian. £150 million will be allocated to developing better transport links and £825 million will be spent on kick-starting regeneration in town centres. Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “This funding sits alongside our wider initiatives to spread growth, through devolving more money and power out of Westminster to towns and cities, putting in place bespoke interventions to places that need it most, and our Long-Term Plan for Towns.”

Department for Science, Innovation and Technology releases new digital map of underground pipes and cables as part of a drive to make underground infrastructure data more accessible

On Thursday (23 November), the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology has released the first version National Underground Asset Register (NUAR), with plans for it to be fully operational by 2025. This project hopes to facilitate £5 billion of economic growth through increased efficiency, reduced accidental damage and reduced disruptions to citizens and businesses.

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero sets out a plan for £960 million of investment and reform to the power network

On Thursday (23 November), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced plans to speed up connections and increase capacity on the electricity grid, alongside £960 million of investment in green manufacturing industries. Aims of the reform include halving powerline construction time and reducing average grid connection delay from five years to six months. It is also claimed that properties closest to power infrastructure could benefit from up to £1,000 per year off electricity bills. National Grid Chief Executive John Pettigrew said: “A spatial energy plan and accelerated planning consent will bring clarity, authority and urgency to what needs to be built and where, while new community benefit proposals will ensure local people remain at the heart of the energy transition. The connections action plan will deliver fundamental reforms needed to enable us to plug clean energy projects in faster, and build on the progress already being made.”

Prompt Payment and Cash Flow Review Report

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) has published the Prompt Payment and Cash Flow Review. This review considers existing prompt payment policy and sets out actions that government will take forward to improve payment times across the UK.

Key measures in the Review report include:

  • Extending and amending the Payment Practice Reporting Regulations 2017;

  • Broadening the responsibilities of the Small Business Commissioner;

  • More active enforcement of the Payment Practice Reporting Regulations; and

  • Increasing public awareness and transparency by supporting publication of payment performance league tables;

The review report can be found here.

The Government response to the Amendments to the Payment Practices and Performance Regulations 2017 has also been published detailing a summary of the consultation responses received and the next steps.

DLUHC Publishes Planning Practice Guidance

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has issued an update to the National Planning Policy Framework and relevant planning practice guidance.

The National Planning Policy Framework was published on 27 March 2012 and revised in 2018, 2019, 2021 and most recently 5 September 2023. It sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. Download the full policy document here.

DLUHC has revised and updated planning practice guidance to make it accessible. More information can be found here.

Planning Enforcement and the Responsible Actors Scheme

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has published guidance in response to breaches of planning control under the Building Safety (Responsible Actors Scheme and Prohibitions) Regulations 2023.

The 2023 Regulations, made under Sections 126-129 and 168 of the Building Safety Act 2022, create a Responsible Actors Scheme, a Building Industry Scheme made under sections 126-127 Building Safety Act 2022. Eligible residential developers who do not join the scheme can be subject to planning and building control prohibitions. More information can be found here.

The guidance can be found here.


Monday 27th: The House of Lords will hold oral questions on the graduate job market and whether there is a mismatch between skills and vacancies.

Monday 27th: The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee will hear oral evidence on fire safety.

Tuesday 28th: The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero will receive oral questions. Included in plans is discussion on the proportion of average household income spent on energy costs, inflation reduction for low carbon industries, the development of community energy schemes, National Grid development, and the proportion of housing with energy efficiency measures installed.

Wednesday 29th: The Built Environment Committee will hear oral evidence on modern methods of construction.


24 January 2024


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