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THE WEEK IN POLICY: Public Affairs Update - Friday 8 March

Chancellor announces personal tax cuts in Spring Budget, with little mention of the built environment.


On Wednesday (6 March) Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced the Spring Budget which included a 2% cut to national insurance, a shake-up to child benefits, £500 million of support to vulnerable households, and a new “UK ISA”.


There were few announcements directly relevant to the built environment, although there were a number of grants to research and local housing/infrastructure projects, including:

  • £360mn to boost British manufacturing and R&D, including £100mn to the Turing Institute, and up to £120mn more for the Green Industries Growth Accelerator to further support expansion of low carbon manufacturing supply chains across the UK.

  • Money to a number of local areas for housing including £240mn to London and £10.2mn for Cambridge, and further detail on local Investment Zones in regions including Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire

  • £3mn to match industry-led funding to attract more people to take up roles as planners for local authorities

  • A consultation on a new accelerated planning service for major commercial applications, as well as a response to the consultation on operational reforms to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project regime, both of which we will look at.


In response to the Government’s Budget announcement, Gillian Charlesworth said:


“While there was some good news today for individuals, with cuts to National Insurance and reforms to child benefit, this was not the net zero Budget the country needed. The UK urgently requires a clear, long-term plan to decarbonise our homes and buildings, and there is still a long way to go to drive the much-needed transition to clean heat. This plan needs to involve a raft of measures, from shifting levies from gas to electricity to encourage householders to install heat pumps, to providing guidance for local authorities so they can deliver retrofit programmes in each area of the country.


“Maintaining funding for our net zero commitments – including those related to the built environment – is crucial if we are to achieve our climate goals by 2050. It is disappointing to see that this detail was lacking from the Chancellor’s statement today.”


Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities invests £208 million in the North for town transformation


On Friday (1 March), the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced a £208 million funding round for towns in the North. Included in the funding is £90 million for Blackpool which will be used to build new homes and renovate low-quality properties not currently fit to be lived in. Sheffield will receive £67 million for new homes on brownfield sites and Liverpool will receive £31 million to be spent on a range of regeneration projects.


(Lord) Banner KC to lead review on national infrastructure

Top planning barrister, (Lord) Charles Banner KC, will lead an independent review to look into speeding up the delivery of major infrastructure projects, confirmed by the Housing Minister and Secretary of State on Thursday (7 March) The review builds on wider government reforms to streamline the process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs), which are often held up by legal barriers and judicial reviews. See





Spring Budget 2024: sector figures left ‘disappointed’ and frustrated by ‘missed opportunity’ – Inside Housing 


Inside Housing reports the heads of several housing sector bodies have reacted with disappointment to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget. It notes the statement had echoes of last year’s in that it fell short on major housing announcements, prompting frustration and disappointment from across the sector at an opportunity missed. Representatives of the National Housing Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Northern Housing Consortium were among those quoted expressing their disappointment.


Built environment institutes renew commitment to sustainability – New Civil Engineer


New Civil Engineer reports that establishments including The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) and the Landscape Institute (LI) have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together as the UK Built Environment Advisory Group (UKBEAG) for another five years, having originally launched in 2016. The group said its members aim to address the imbalance in the availability of expertise “through advocacy and capacity development” and want to “support those grappling with rapid urbanisation, the climate emergency, displacement after crises and post-conflict recovery.”


UK construction activity stabilises on back of falling inflation – FT





Tuesday 12 March: Catherine West MP will lead a Westminster Hall debate on social housing occupancy levels. The Lords Science and Technology Committee will also hear oral evidence from Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, and Sarah Munby, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology on the work of the Department.


Wednesday 13 March: Sir Simon Clarke MP will lead a Westminster Hall debate on reforming the planning system. The Energy Security and Net Zero Committee will also hear oral evidence from representatives of Ofgem and Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, for its inquiry into Heating our homes.


Thursday 14 March: Lord Young of Cookham will lead a debate in the House of Lords on the housing needs of young people.





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