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Hello one and all

So where did that year go……. ?

The build-up to Christmas is one of excitement and anticipation.  Roll on the endless Christmas parties and festive-themed events, early December is truly special. It’s possibly one of the only times in the year we all power down and find a little time to relax.

When Oscar Wilde wrote, “To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect”, I doubt for any single moment he had any idea how we at Exeter College would draw on that quote. So as the tinsel started coming out and the Christmas festivities were beginning to get underway, here at Exeter College, we showed that little bit of intellect and wondered if we were about to get a special festive visit of our very own….

Exactly a year ago today the Office for Standards in Education, Children Services and Skills, better known as OFSTED paid us a visit.  We hadn’t been inspected since 2014 so we knew we would be seen at some point.  A 9-year hiatus was a huge compliment as they felt as an OFSTED outstanding college with strong success we didn’t really need a visit. With an inspection team numbering nearly 2 football teams worth and a week of review you know you are in for a long week and rightly so.  It is a true testament to the entire team at Exeter College that we walked away with Outstanding, a rare accolade in this day an age and the first college to retain its grading post OFSTED.  This was also the first inspection we had undertaken with reference to our work on the local skills agenda.  3 inspectors, 50 interviews, and a deep dive into our employer support, no easy task. Again, we took top grades.  What a gift this was …..

So why do I share this story?  The commonest words I hear in my role is “Skills”.  OFSTED have shared this view by incorporating this into the inspection framework. Year after year it becomes more of a talking point and is never far away when I chat with employers both big and small.  It feels like the skills challenges or skills gaps are more evident and the awareness of our need for change gathers pace.  Only last week I spoke at a national conference in London and we shared data that shows the construction industry is under massive pressure without change with regards to skills. The numbers are eye-watering. We are forecasted to see 250,000 vacancies in the sector by 2027.

Collaboration is at the heart of the solution.  Exeter College has put it at the heart of what we do and it is stated as one of our 3 key values. As a result of this we have made significant inroads into the local skills gap here, growing construction to a point where we are full to bursting. Over 600 Apprentices are involved in construction and rising.  This is a 3 fold increase from 2017 and quite unique in terms of the scale of our operation.  We are committed to supporting the industry’s needs and will continue to evolve our offer to meet the new challenges ahead.

CESW’s strength is its breadth and commitment to supporting construction.  As an outsider looking in, I can see the brilliant people who want to make a difference.  I was delighted to work with the board to shape a new and innovative approach to skills.  Acting as solution-focused, cross-themed skills panel I’m sure we will start to make a difference.  Essential to our success will be joining up initiatives and resources for common good. We are blessed here in the SW with some amazing initiatives. Let’s make them even better.  Already we have untangled a few of the barriers and embarked on initiatives to bring effective training and support to CESW members.  Using the recipe of success we have here at Exeter College, I’m looking forward to supporting the region’s skills challenges in a different and exciting way.


If you are interested in joining the CESW Skills Advisory Panel please don’t hesitate to drop Mike an email on

Words come and go in popularity in the English language with some becoming an item of jargon that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context. The word ‘collaboration’ is no exception.  

In today’s business world the word ‘collaboration’ has become freely used, easily rolling off the lips of business leaders who see it as a behaviour to extol both about their own business and also the way they go about it.  

Notwithstanding its free use, it is also possibly one of the least understood and consequently misused words today in business.  

A few leaders, a small minority at the very best, use it genuinely and correctly whilst the majority seemingly use it to ‘keep up appearances’ vis-à-vis their competitors and here is the problem. These leaders (if we can describe them as such) are pretending to act as if something is true e.g. collaboration, when it is not: they are ‘pseudo collaborators’. 

These ‘pseudo collaborators’ are dangerous to the cause of ‘collaboration’, for whilst they appear to say the right things their behaviours and actions, visible to all, do not align with what they say: they are not for ‘collaborating’. As to why this occurs, and so frequently, it is important to understand that some simple beliefs that people hold dictate to them how they approach and go about business. 

Two researchers, Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilman, in 1974 studied workers and their routine conflicts at work.  Overtime their research allowed them to observe how people resolved conflict and they distilled this down into five core approaches1 of which two are of significance. 

Many people believe that business is competitive and about winning: they have a win/lose mindset. These people are characterised as ‘competing’ individuals by Thomas and Kilman, for they pursue their own aims at the expense of others using whatever power to win their position: they are assertive and uncooperative 

On the other hand, those whom Thomas and Kilman found to be effective in collaborating were assertive in attempting to satisfy their own desires but were equally focused on being cooperative in satisfying the wishes of others: a win/win approach that satisfies the needs of both parties.   

The two styles are very different and to illustrate there are 5 ways that the two conflict: 

Competing   Collaborating 
Trust is low  Trust is high 
Communication is low quality and as required  Communication is high quality and continuous 
Problems are simple: unidimensional  Problems are complex: multidimensional 
Organisational culture rewards ‘winning’  Organisational culture rewards ‘cooperation’ 
Relationships are as required   Relationships are ongoing and continuous 
Defends a position believing this is correct  Explores a creative solution for both/all parties 


Our CICI research2 found that people with competing behaviours are dominant with there being some 16 ‘forces against collaboration’ with just 3 of the 19 we researched being ‘forces for collaboration’ (though these were weak). 

That there is much to be done would appear obvious, but thirty years on the sector has resisted collaboration, joint-venturing, partnering and (now) alliancing. Why? 

People cannot be forced to collaborate and the more you try the more you are creating a conflict situation. Trying to push organisations with cultures that reward people with competing behaviours to collaborate and to work collaboratively the more they will look defend their position and seek to ‘win’ resulting in its rejection. What can be done? 

‘Pseudo collaborators’ need to recognise that the ‘competing mindset’ of win/win invariably leads to lose/lose: contracts that run over cost and time as well of poor quality is a familiar story for the Construction sector. When will this stop? 

The answer lies in the hands of real Leaders (notice the use of the capital letter) who have the vision to see that ‘pseudo collaborators’, the culture they create and the way they advocate working has nothing to offer except in carrying on operating in the same old fruitless way. 

Learning is required for it is time to change. 

We at CICI are here to help and support organisations and their people in working together more collaboratively and effectively. We carry out research to support what we say and what we do. We run training in collaboration and working collaboratively both in open courses as well as  for organisations and supply chains. To find out more and maybe discuss run the Thomas-Kilman Instrument with your leaders or supply chain, please contact 

COP28 Climate Conference starts

On Thursday (30 November), COP28, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, began in Dubai. It will run until 12 December with the aim to coordinate international action to reduce climate change and its impact. Built Environment Day will be on 6th December. The target to limit global temperature increases due to human activity to as close to 1.5C as possible, as agreed in COP21, is not currently on track to be met. This has been confirmed recently by a UN report.


Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announces £19 million councils pilot net zero projects

On Thursday (30 November), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced the £19m Local Net Zero Accelerator. The fund will help selected combined authorities unlock private investment, speed up their efforts to tackle climate change and help the UK reach its net zero target. The Local Net Zero Accelerator pilots will be in, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the West Midlands Combined Authority, York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority. The combined authorities will decide how to allocate their share of the funding, selecting projects that will benefit their communities. These could include, housing retrofit, renewable energy projects, and green transport projects.


Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announce an increase in heat pump applications after the increase in the government grant

On Thursday (30 November) the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced that weekly applications for heat pumps since the government grant was increased to £7,500 are 60% higher than they were before the rise. In the first week after the announcement, applications rose by over three times to 1,150. Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho is quoted saying, ‘Today’s new figures show our pragmatic approach to net zero is working. In the first week after our 50% increase to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, applications tripled. We are supporting hardworking families who want to make the switch and replace their boiler in a way that’s within their budgets.’


Government responds to report on reforms to national planning policy

On Wednesday (29 November), the Department for Levelling Up. Housing and Communities released the Government’s response to a report by the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee on reforms to national planning policy. Included in this is a commitment to undertake further consultation and engagement on the topic of an infrastructure levy and a refusal to undertake a national review of the Green Belt.


Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities allocates £148.4 million for 1,230 new homes for rough sleepers

On Tuesday (28 November), the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced new funding for the building of new homes in 46 local authorities as part of the Government’s Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme. The accommodation will be provided with 24/7 support services and specialist teams to address substance abuse, domestic violence and other abuse.

Building Safety Regulator Strategic Plan 2023 – 2026

The Building Safety Regulator (BSR) has published its strategic plan for the period 2023 to 2026. The plan sets out how the BSR will carry out its building safety functions in the first three years of operation (April 2023 to March 2026).  The plan describes the work the BSR has been established to deliver, how it will go about it and what it aims to achieve. It includes a roadmap of activity for each year. More information can be found here.


Safer and Greener Buildings Portfolio Market Engagement Survey

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is undertaking research to understand supply chain capacity and capability, constraints, and opportunities in the remediation sector. This follows a similar survey completed back in Quarter 4 2022 which provided DLUHC with invaluable insights which they are now seeking to refresh.  The findings from the survey will help DLUHC to try to address any challenges facing the remediation sector to ensure successful delivery of the Safer and Greener Buildings Portfolio.

The survey can be found hereClosing date is 15 December 2023.

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:

Measures aimed at business include:

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:

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.

Government reshuffle sees new Environment Secretary, Health Secretary and Housing Minister

On Monday (13 November), Rishi Sunak began a reshuffle of his Government, expected to be the last before the next general election. Therese Coffey has been replaced by Steve Barclay as Environment Secretary, the former Health Secretary. As a result, Victoria Atkins, the former Financial Secretary to the Treasury, has replaced Barclay as Health Secretary. Rachel Maclean has also been replaced by Lee Rowley as Housing Minister, the 16th since 2010.


Government introduces provisions for a Decent Homes Standard in the Renters (Reform) Bill

On Wednesday (15 November), the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced a series of amendments to the Renters (Reform) Bill which will aim to ban landlords from refusing renters on universal credit or with children. A ‘Decent Homes Standard’ will also be applied to the private rented sector for the first time, setting a standard or level at which tenants should be able to expect their housing to meet. This standard will be set following a consultation, and will help meet the target of reducing non-decency in rented homes by 50% by 2030.

Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee launches an inquiry into children’s and young people’s health and wellbeing in the built environment

On Wednesday (15 November), the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee announced the launch of an inquiry into the experiences of children and young people in the built environment, seeing how these experiences may differ between different social groups, before looking into how the planning system can be changed to improve these experiences. It will also investigate best practice and evaluation, trying to apply learnings from past examples of policy and good practice in improving young people’s lives.

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs launces scheme to help create affordable housing in rural areas

On Friday (10 November), the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs announced a £2.5 million package to support a network of independent advisors who will work with communities to develop affordable housing schemes. This scheme is being delivered in conjunction with Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE)

Treasury Select Committee on Infrastructure

On Tuesday (14 November) The Treasury Select Committee held a session on infrastructure, featuring evidence from Sir John Armitt, Chair, National Infrastructure Commission; Nick Smallwood, CEO, Infrastructure and Projects Authority; James Heath, CEO, National Infrastructure Commission; Stephen Dance, Head of Infrastructure, Infrastructure and Projects Authority.  The session covered “certainty of policy” as a crucial tool to ensure that private sector operators can secure and deliver long term investment in the country’s energy, digital and water infrastructure.The session also covered strategic rail and road investment, reforms to NSIPs planning and the management of major infrastructure projects. – Treasury Committee

Government sets out its policy agenda for the next session of Parliament in the King’s Speech

The State Opening of Parliament took place on Tuesday (7 November) which saw King Charles deliver a speech outlining what his government plans to do over the next year. It was probably the final King’s Speech before next year’s general election and contained the lowest amount of legislation since the Queen’s Speech in 2014.

The King re-announced several initiatives previously set out by the Prime Minister, while also reminding listeners of the economic situation ahead of the Autumn Statement taking place later this month that is likely to contain more announcements.


The built environment

There was little that was directly relevant for the built environment. A priority is strengthening the UK’s energy security, and committed to licensing new oil and gas fields, working to secure record amounts of investment in renewable energy sources and decarbonising infrastructure through investment in Network North, and establishing Great British Railways for accountable operational and infrastructure decisions.


There are also changes to the ongoing Renters’ Reform Bill which include:

The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill was mentioned – this will help to clarify and improve rules around using personal data for scientific research

Other announcements included:

Secretary of State makes first appearance in front of Energy Security and Net Zero Committee

On Wednesday (8 November), Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Claire Coutinho appeared in front of the Select Committee to discuss the work of her Department. Coutinho answered a range of questions around COP 28 and the new Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill and defended Sunak’s recent climbdown on net zero, arguing that the UK still has “incredibly ambitious targets”. Coutinho also shared that she would look to tackle affordability problems with bills through the Warm Homes Discount Scheme.


Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announces new renewable energy partnership between the UK and Germany

On Friday (3 November), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced an agreement with Germany that provides a blueprint for cooperation on energy and climate policy, including clean technologies and energy security. The partnership will see both nations commit to enhanced cooperation to remove regulatory barriers on renewables and implement knowledge sharing arrangements on industrial and buildings decarbonisation.

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero gives £65 million of support for data centre waste heat network projects

On Friday (3 November), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced it will support five projects to deliver cleaner, low-cost heating to housing estates and businesses using waste heat from data centres. One of these projects plans to complete the full decarbonisation of the Lancaster University campus with a heat network using a large heat pump powered by a new solar farm and an existing wind turbine. Another one of these projects will connect 10,000 new homes and 250,000m2 of commercial space to a low-carbon energy source.


Office for National Statistics highlight stalling progress on greening homes

On Wednesday (1 November), the Social Market Foundation released a response to new ONS figures on energy efficiency ratings of English and Welsh homes that show a slowdown in the uptake of heat pumps and insulation. The figures show 68% of new EPC registrations in England are still heating with mains gas, with only 12% heating through electricity. Niamh O’Regan of the Social Market Foundation commented: “What’s notable in this year’s release is that progress towards the decarbonisation and electrification of home heat is stalling and, in some cases, going backwards. The percentage of new build homes using renewable heating (including heat pumps) has dropped and the change in the existing stock is barely noticeable. By 2030 the UK is supposed to have reduced its emissions by 68%, and we cannot get there without addressing our heating. Today’s figures show that we are well off track.”

Department for Business and Trade publishes case study on retrofitting in housing

On Monday (30 October), the Department for Business and Trade published a case study on the Retrofitting in Housing demonstrator tested on the Isle of Wight, which aimed to “empower retrofitting companies and third sector organisations with accurate, data-driven mechanisms to quickly identify homeowners eligible for funding programmes”. The Department claims that the various pilots were well received and offer a “scalable solution to be deployed nationally”.

Building control changes for higher-risk buildings and wider changes to building regulations

On Tuesday (31 October) the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities circulated a letter with local government, fire and rescue authorities and approved inspectors to raise awareness of the recently published regulations under the Building Safety Act 2022. The regulations deliver on recommendations made in the Hackitt Report and cover the technical detail underpinning the new, more stringent regime for the design and construction of higher-risk buildings.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities confirms second tranche of leasehold reform

On Sunday (29 October) the Sunday Times revealed the Department’s intentions for leasehold reform in England and Wales at the upcoming King’s Speech. This includes ensuring all new houses are sold on a freehold basis, overhauling the process of extending leases and capping existing ground rents to a ‘peppercorn’ rate. The Department is expected to run a consultation process alongside the Bill in a matter of weeks.

Pilot Project to Cut Defects

CLC is running a pilot project on a scheme developed by the contractors’ umbrella body ActuateUK to tackle project defects at source with the long-term aim of removing the need for payment retentions. It takes previously successful data gathering schemes used to address health & safety concerns and late payment as its inspiration with a similar focus on using anonymous data to tackle the root causes of our defects ‘culture’. Both these earlier schemes produced tangible results and had a profound impact on the prevailing culture.

Clients and contractors are invited to take part in the pilot by sharing their project data, which is non-attributed and will help to build up a picture of why defects come about and how we can set about eliminating them. Defects will be collected from completion certificates using processes developed by the Get It Right Initiative (GIRI). They are compared and rationalised against the overall value of the contract to enable comparison between projects and produce a score that can be used to evaluate a solution. Please use this link to submit your data.

Alternative Binder Systems for Lower Carbon Concrete – Code of Practice

The Green Construction Board’s Low Carbon Concrete Group, working with industry, has helped to create and develop a BSI Flex Standard for Lower Carbon Concrete. The BSI Flex is available to download here.  As this is a version 1, it is also available for public comment until 30th November 2023 on the standards development portal and we invite you to leave any comments here.

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and Energy Bill gain Royal Assent and become Acts of Parliament

On Thursday (26 October), both the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and the Energy Bill gained Royal Assent and became the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act and Energy Act respectively.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act is intended to “speed up the planning system, hold developers to account, cut bureaucracy, and encourage more councils to put in place plans to enable the building of new homes.” The product of the Conservative Party’s flagship levelling up agenda, the Act will attempt to ensure that development is built more beautifully and shaped by local communities’ democratic wishes, while also producing more local infrastructure, like GP surgeries, schools and transport links.

Separately, the Energy Act is intended to strengthen the UK’s energy security, support the delivery of net zero and ensure household energy bills are affordable in the long-term. The Act gives Ofgem a net zero remit, while also making it the UK’s official regulator of heat networks. There are also provisions for carbon capture and storage and hydrogen.


Department for Energy Security and Net Zero officially increases heat pump grants by 50%

On Monday (23 October), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced homes can now receive a £7,500 grant to install a heat pump, in line with Rishi Sunak’s promise made earlier in the month. A further £10 million is also being made available through the Heat Pump Ready programme to support innovation in the heat pump sector and the launch of the ‘Welcome Home to Energy Efficiency’ campaign to help people improve the energy efficiency of their home and lower winter bills.


Government responds to Levelling-Up Committee’s report on Reforming the Private Rented Sector

On Monday (23 October), the Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities Committee published the Government’s response to its report on Reforming the Private Rented Sector. Included in this response is:


£75 million given to regional innovation hubs by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology

On Monday (23 October) the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology announced the release of £75 million to regional clusters to boost local research, businesses and economies. There are eight innovation ‘Launchpads’ that will share the money to support regional SMEs. This includes a Net-Zero Industry Launchpad in South Wales dedicated to the pursuit of sustainable solutions in net-zero industrial emissions.


Built Environment Committee

The Built Environment committee held a meeting at the House of Lords on Tuesday 24th October, the subject was on “Modern Methods of Construction – what’s gone wrong?” – Watch here!

Nominate your emerging talent to co-chair Generation4Change

Andreea Vihristencu has decided to resign from her role as co-chair of G4C.  Andreea has brought tremendous energy and insight into the views of the younger generation in her two–year tenure as co-chair and we thank her for her leadership.  As she moves on, an opportunity opens up for a new G4C Co-Chair to join the movement and become a voice for the younger generation of construction. G4C are searching for a new Co-Chair to work alongside current Co-Chair Lydia McGuinness. If you’re interested in this role, please fill in the application form. G4C Co-Chair Application (


Department for Energy Security and Net Zero launches a campaign to offer energy saving tips for families and £150 Warm Home Discount support for the most vulnerable

On Monday (16 October), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced the new ‘It All Adds Up’ campaign. It will aim to help people make simple changes to save at least £100 over the course of a year. The Warm Home Discount will also be rolled out to provide more than three million households with £150 towards winter fuel costs.

Claire Coutinho, Energy Security Secretary, gives a speech at the Energy UK 2023 conference

On Wednesday (18 October) the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho, delivered a speech to the Energy UK conference 2023. In her speech, Coutinho advocated for ‘affordable, reliable, abundant energy’ and the prioritisation of training a skilled work force and ‘scaling-up green jobs and growth’.


Labour secures double by-election victory

On Thursday (19 October) voters went to the polls in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth to elect Labour candidates Alistair Strathern and Sarah Edwards as their new parliamentary representatives. Mid Bedfordshire saw a 24,664 majority overturned by a 12.4% swing to Labour and a 28.6% downturn for the Conservatives. Meanwhile Labour returned a majority for the first time in Tamworth since a bellwether by-election in 1996, achieving a 23.9% swing. Voter turnout was nearly half of that for the 2019 General Election, with Conservative Party Chair, Greg Hands MP, claiming that there was low turnout among traditional Conservative voters. Keir Starmer welcomed the result, claiming: “Labour is back in the service of working people and redrawing the political map.”

Second National Infrastructure Assessment sets agenda for action over next 30 years

Improved infrastructure to boost economic growth across the UK and meet climate goals is both achievable and affordable if the right policy steps are taken now, according to the government’s independent advisers on infrastructure strategy. The Second National Infrastructure Assessment – a five yearly review conducted by the National Infrastructure Commission – sets out a programme of transformation for the country’s energy, transport and other key networks over the next 30 years.  See Long term review sets out pressing need to modernise infrastructure to support economic growth and climate action – NIC

Guidance on the criteria for being a Higher-Risk Building

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) have published two sets of guidance:

Both sets of guidance relate to the legal criteria for determining whether a building is considered a higher-risk building and aim to help potential dutyholders and accountable persons identify whether they are responsible for a building in scope of the higher-risk regime. Guidance on the criteria for being a Higher-Risk Building – Construction Leadership Council

Keir Starmer pledges housing boost at Labour Conference

On Tuesday (10 October), Keir Starmer delivered his leader’s speech at Labour’s annual conference, where he promised to deliver ‘the next generation’ of new towns, along with 1.5 million new homes. Claiming that Labour would ‘bulldoze’ through planning laws if it came into power, Starmer pledged to accelerate building on the ‘grey belt’ – unused urban land which ‘cannot be justified as a reason to hold our future back’. Labour expects the majority of up-front investment in the new towns to come from the private sector, with local areas bidding for new towns required to seek out private backers. Starmer also made a direct appeal to disillusioned Conservative voters, stating he now oversees a ‘changed Labour party, no longer in thrall to gesture politics’.

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announces funding for schools, hospitals and public buildings to lower energy use

On Tuesday (10 October), The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced £230 million is to be made available to schools, hospitals, leisure centres and other public buildings to install energy measures. The opening of this funding coincides with the 3-year anniversary of the scheme which has allocated £2 billion across 1000 buildings. Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance commented: ‘We are a world-leader when it comes to reducing carbon emissions – and for us to reach our goal of net zero by 2050, we want to help public bodies like schools and hospitals to do their bit.’

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities launches £2 million advertising campaign encouraging residents to make complaints as part of efforts to improve social housing conditions

On Monday (9 October), The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced the ‘Make Things Right’ campaign, which will see adverts run on social media, radio, and online search to inform social housing tenants of their rights and ensure they escalate complaints to the Housing Ombudsman if concerns are not addressed swiftly or appropriately.


£60m released to transform brownfield land and build more than 6000 homes

On Monday (9 October), The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced a new round of funding for 100 regeneration projects spread out across the country. This funding is the second phase of the £180 million Brownfield Land Release Fund, which is released directly to councils in an effort speed up the release of land and building as soon as possible. Rachel Maclean, Minister for Housing and Planning, commented, ‘We know we need to build more homes, but this cannot come at the expense of concreting over our precious countryside. That is why we are doing all we can to make sure we’re making use of wasteland and unused brownfield land, so we can turn these eyesores into beautiful and thriving communities.’

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