Policy update from CE National – July 14 2023
Grant Shapps and John Kerry convene Climate Finance Mobilisation Forum
On Monday (10 July), the Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Grant Shapps and the US Special Presidential Envoy on Climate John Kerry convened the Climate Finance Mobilisation Forum in Windsor. They were joined by leading figures in finance and philanthropy in a bid to encourage efforts that increase support for emerging and developing economies to accelerate a net zero transition. Shapps said: “Finance is the lifeblood of growing economies. Billions has been spent so far to accelerate the green transition already underway, and the UK is delivering its £11.6 billion of International Climate Finance to support countries around the world – but if we want to deliver real change, we must go further and do it together. The scale of this transition requires trillions in private investment in addition to the public funds we are spending.”
DLUHC forced to hand back £1.9bn to the Treasury
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has been asked to hand back £1.9bn to the Treasury originally earmarked to tackle England’s housing crisis after the Department struggled to find projects to spend it on. DLUHC has surrendered hundreds of millions of pounds budgeted for 2022-23, including £255 million meant to fund new affordable housing and £245 million meant to improve building safety. Officials said the Department was unable to spend the money, which accounts for about a third of its entire housing budget, thanks to rising interest rates and uncertainty in the housing market after the Covid-19 pandemic. However, experts warn that the lack of investment following this development is likely to exacerbate the housing crisis in England, where housebuilding is forecast to drop to its lowest level since the Second World War.
Next stage of Renters’ Reform Bill likely delayed until autumn
The next stage of the Renters’ Reform Bill, due to have its Second Reading, is now unlikely to take place until the autumn. The House of Commons will rise for summer recess on July 20th and the Bill does not appear on the Parliamentary timetable published by the government for next week.
UK delays ‘Great British Nuclear’ launch
On Wednesday (12 July), the Government announced delays to the official launch of Great British Nuclear – an Arms-Length Body intended to support the UK’s nuclear industry. Grant Shapps had been due to give a heavily trailed speech at London’s Science Museum yesterday, setting out his plans for Great British Nuclear and its role helping the UK hit its net zero goals. However, a leaked email to attendees sent by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said the event was being rescheduled “due to unforeseen circumstances”. Shapps was expected to use his speech to outline the next phase of a planned competition for manufacturing firms — including Rolls Royce and GE Hitachi — vying to develop small modular reactors (SMRs).
IN THE NEWS
NHF welcomes amendments to address concerns around Infrastructure Levy – Inside Housing
Inside Housing reports that the National Housing Federation (NHF) has welcomed amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that aim to address concerns about the proposed Infrastructure Levy that will replace Section 106. According to the amended wording, local authorities now “must seek to ensure” that the level of affordable housing funding provided by developers is maintained or exceeded, unless planning authorities determine that it would make development economically unviable. Another amendment makes it clear that planning authorities can require developers to pay a proportion of their levy liabilities in-kind as onsite affordable housing. Two further amendments aim to strengthen the “test and learn” process through which the levy will gradually be introduced over 10 years. Local authorities will be able to disapply the levy if it is not delivering on its policy aims. They may then use Section 106 to secure affordable housing and infrastructure.
Up to 10,000 fewer affordable homes would have been built had Infrastructure Levy been in place, says City Hall – Inside Housing
Inside Housing reports on new City Hall research which reveals that London could have lost out on between 4,500 and 10,000 affordable homes had the Government’s proposed Infrastructure Levy been in place instead of the current system. The research, which covers a five-year period, found that the Levy could also have made between 10,000 and 30,000 homes of all tenures unviable. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has joined a number of organisations from across the country that are calling on the Government to drop the new Levy in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. Last month, 30 housing associations, housebuilders, charities and councils urged the Government to abandon its plan for the new levy, warning it could cause a reduction in the number of new affordable homes and less money assigned to infrastructure. However, changes to the Levy – including placing firmer emphasis on the need for local authorities to maintain a similar or greater level of affordable housing funding under the new system – were welcomed by the National Housing Federation (NHF) last week (see above).
Proposed new UK oil and gas fields would provide at most three weeks of energy a year – The Guardian
The Guardian reports on analysis showing that proposed new oil and gas fields in the North Sea would produce only enough gas to satisfy the UK’s needs for a few weeks a year, with minimal impact on energy security. In addition, the analysis suggests it is more likely that much of the gas would be exported overseas to the highest bidder, as is currently the case with about 60% of the UK’s gas production. The government has said the new fields are needed for energy security, at a time of rising gas prices, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision to move ahead with new licences comes despite advice from the International Energy Agency, commissioned by the UK Government, that no new exploration and development of oil and gas fields around the world should now take place if the world is to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Labour accuses Sunak of ‘standing on the sidelines’ as housing crisis unfolds – Evening Standard
Evening Standard reports that Labour has stepped up warnings of a “Tory mortgage bombshell” hitting households ahead of a meeting with major brokers. The meeting, convened by the Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves and the Shadow Housing Secretary Lisa Nandy, comes as average two-year fixed mortgages hit a 15-year high. Labour also used the meeting as an opportunity to again attack the Government over its failure to set mandatory targets on the supply of new homes. Nandy said Labour would make a package of support for struggling mortgage-holders mandatory rather than voluntary, give greater rights to renters and “take the tough choices to get Britain building.”