The government recently published its long-awaited Levelling Up White Paper. This paper set out the Prime Minister's vision to level up and bring prosperity across the UK. It is a welcome relief for many as the impact of the pandemic has exacerbated many of the issues outlined in the paper.
The Heart of the Matter
The government has defined twelve levelling up missions to help create long term growth in the UK. The missions summarise improvements to education, infrastructure both physical and digital, health, community, economic and housing.
The Levelling up agenda aims to improve prosperity for all parts of the United Kingdom by tackling geographical disparities between cities and regions The heart of the plan is creating more devolved mayoral powers if areas want them. So local leaders and local authorities have London style powers so regions can target spending more efficiently.
Housing - Not Just Building New Homes
Housing is a focus for the levelling up agenda with goals for increasing first-time buyers across the UK by 2030. This pathway to ownership would be aided by the already put in place ‘Help to Buy’ and ‘Mortgage Guarantee’ schemes which allow low deposit mortgages. As well as reviewing the process of buying and selling homes to ensure that purchases follow through as currently, a third of purchases fall are completed.
The controversial 80/20 funding rule which aimed to provide 80% of housing funding towards ‘maximum affordable areas’ will be cancelled as it effectively prioritised the South East with more affordable homes. With the formula removed, much of the funding will be invested in new homes in the North and the Midlands.
Building homes is one way to help with the housing crisis, but much of the current supply is also in desperate need of upgrades to meet certain quality standards. The private rental sector was targeted and a separate white paper on the issue will be released later in the year. The government aspires for the number of “non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50% by 2030”. All homes in the private sector will have to meet a Decent Homes Supply to ensure high quality. A national landlord register is being explored to help with the issue of rogue landlords and heal the relationships between landlords and tenants.
Community Creation and Transformation
As well as housing, the community is a big focus in the paper. Twenty towns and cities will benefit from regenerations schemes with Sheffield and Wolverhampton being the first to be announced. These converted brownfield sites will be transformed into developments combining, housing, retail, and business in new sustainable modern neighbourhoods and town centres.
Alongside this local regeneration scheme, the government will target £100m of investment in three new innovation accelerators: private, public academic partnerships similar to the Stanford Silicon Valley and MIT – Greater Boston models. The proposed sites for these pilots are Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Glasgow City-Region.
The white paper overall outlines several plans to help level up the UK and details the benefit for not just the local areas but for the whole country. “Success in levelling up is about growing the economic pie, everywhere and for everyone, not re-slicing it.”
The Future of Housing Conference aims to explore how to deliver the levelling up agenda. Uniting housing leaders from parts of the country, the conference will be a forum for the public sector to discuss the plans that the government has laid out in the Levelling Up White Paper. The conference is back in person on 26th April at etc venues St Paul in London. This year’s topics include:
- How Policy & Regulation is Shaping the Future of Housing
- Turning Policy into Action: Housing Investment, Infrastructure and Delivery
- The Importance of Community Led Place Making at the Heart of Regeneration
- Reform: Designing, Planning and Creating Great Spaces for Future Generations
Speakers from central and local government have confirmed as well as chief executives from several prominent housing associations. Complimentary tickets are available for housing association members. Click below to register your pass today.