The important bits for housing and construction in the government’s legislative programme revealed today

The government’s legislative programme for the months ahead was revealed in the Queen’s Speech this afternoon. Here is a summary of the measures most likely to affect housing and construction.

Levelling up and regeneration bill

This bill would:

  • “lay the foundations” for all of England to have the opportunity to benefit from a devolution deal by 2030.
  • introduce a new approach to environmental assessment in the planning system.
  • largely replace Section 106 with a new locally set, non-negotiable levy to deliver housing and infrastructure.
  • simplify and standardise the process for local plans so that they are “produced more quickly and are easier for communities to influence”.
  • place a duty on the government to set Levelling Up missions and produce an annual report updating the country on delivery of these missions.
  • create a new model of combined authority: the ‘County Deal’ which will provide local leaders with powers to enhance local accountability, join up services and provide transparent decision making to rejuvenate their communities, increase their ability to reflect local preferences in arrangements including directly elected leaders’ titles.
  • grant new powers for local authorities to bring empty premises back into use and instigate rental auctions of vacant commercial properties in town centres and on high streets.
  • give residents more of a say over changing street names.
  • strengthen neighbourhood planning and digitise the system to make local plans easier to find, understand and engage with; by making it easier for local authorities to get local plans in place, we will limit speculative development. 

 >> Also read: Environmental assessment shake-up included in planning reforms 

Procurement bill

This bill would:

  • reform the UK’s public procurement regime post-Brexit to “create a simpler and more transparent system”.
  • aim to make public procurement more accessible for new entrants such as small businesses and voluntary, charitable and social enterprises, enabling them to compete for public contracts.
  • establish a single digital platform for supplier registration.
  • enshrine in law the objectives of public procurement including: delivering value for money, maximising public benefit, treating suppliers equally and without discrimination, and acting, and being seen to act, with integrity.
  • require buyers to have regard to the government’s strategic priorities for public procurement as set out in the National Procurement Policy Statement.
  • introduce new, “clearer” arrangements for how contracting authorities can buy at pace if necessary to protect life or health, public order or safety, with strengthened safeguards for transparency.
  • tackle unacceptable behaviour and poor performance through new exclusion rules and giving buyers the tools they need to properly take account of a bidder’s past performance.
  • provide a number of sector-specific features where necessary, including tailored rules to better suit defence and security procurement in order to protect our national interests.

>> Also read: Delayed procurement bill welcomed by industry

Energy bill

This bill would:

  • introduce business models for Carbon Capture Usage and Storage transport and storage, low carbon hydrogen and industrial carbon capture.
  • give government the power to give directions to, require information from, and provide financial assistance to core fuel sector businesses to ensure resilience and continuity of fuel supply.
  • provide for a new market standard and trading scheme for electric heat pumps.
  • appoint Ofgem as the new regulator for heat networks.
  • extend the energy price cap.
  • enable the first ever large-scale hydrogen heating trial.
  • introduce competition in Britain’s onshore electricity networks, “encouraging investment and innovation”.
  • create a new pro-innovation regulatory environment for fusion energy.
  • establish a new Future System Operator – a public body to provide strategic oversight across electricity and gas systems. It will drive progress towards net zero, energy security and minimising consumer costs.
  • clean-up of the UK’s legacy nuclear sites.

>> Also read: Energy Bill to extend price cap and encourage innovation across sector

UK Infrastructure Bank Bill

This bill would:

  • finalise the creation of the UK Infrastructure Bank.
  • ensure the Bank can become fully operational and is able to utilise its £22bn financial capacity to help grow the economy to address the cost of living and support the transition to net zero by 2050.
  • allow the Bank will partner with the private sector to “unlock more than £18bn of additional investment in infrastructure”.
  • enshrine the Bank’s objectives and functions in legislation to ensure that it will be a” long-lasting institution with a clear policy mandate to support economic growth”.
  • set out clear accountability for how the bank is to be run, including reporting and board requirements.
  • give the bank powers to lend directly to local authorities and the Northern Ireland Executive.

Social housing regulation bill

This bill would

  • enable the social housing regulator to intervene with landlords who are performing poorly on consumer issues, such as complaints handling and decency of homes, and to “act in the interest of tenants” to make sure issues are rectified.
  • enable the regulator to inspect landlords to make sure they are providing tenants with the quality of accommodation and services that they deserve.
  • create new tenant satisfaction measures which will allow tenants to see how their landlord is performing compared to other landlords and help the Regulator decide where to focus its attention.
  • ensure tenants of housing associations will be able to request information from their landlord in a similar way to how the Freedom of Information Act works for tenants of Local Authority landlords.
  • guarantee that the regulator will be able to act more quickly where it has concerns about the decency of a home. They will only be required to give 48 hours notice to a landlord before a survey is carried out.
  • provide powers for the Regulator to arrange emergency repairs of tenants’ homes following a survey and where there is evidence of systemic failure by the landlord. This will ensure that serious issues are resolved rapidly where a landlord is unable or unwilling to act.

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