Policy update from CE National – July 21 2023
Mark Farmer leads Industry Training Board Review 2023 – call for evidence
The Department for Education has launched a review of CITB and ECITB. This review is part of a wider programme across government to ensure that Arm’s Length Bodies remain effective. This call for evidence requests stakeholder views on the current and future operation of the CITB and ECITB to inform the review. The review will be led by an independent lead reviewer, Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Consultancy and co-chair of Constructing Excellence. He will be supported by a team of civil servants from the DfE. The review will also access expertise from the respective industries that the ITBs support as well as from across Whitehall.
Major defeat for Conservative Party in by-elections
The Conservative Party suffered two heavy defeats this week after the Liberal Democrats and Labour overturned majorities in the constituencies of Somerton and Frome and Selby and Ainsty respectively. While the Tories narrowly held on to former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former Uxbridge seat, this represents a bruising night for the party, who are coming second to Labour in the national polls. In Somerton and Frome the Lib Dems overturned a majority of more than 19,000, with a 29% swing, while Labour made history in Selby and Ainsty, overturning a 20,137 majority, the biggest overturned Conservative majority, since 1945.
Great British Nuclear launched
On Tuesday (18 July), the Government launched Great British Nuclear after last week’s delay. The Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps outlined how Great British Nuclear (GBN) would drive the expansion of new nuclear power plants in the UK at an “unprecedented” scale and pace. The Government claims GBN will boost the UK’s energy security, reduce dependence on volatile fossil fuel imports, create more affordable power and grow the economy, with the nuclear industry estimated to generate around £6bn for the UK economy. As of Tuesday, companies can register their interest with GBN to participate in a competition to secure funding support to develop their products. This could result in billions of pounds of public and private sector investment in small modular reactor (SMR) projects in the UK.
The Government also said it remained committed to the mega projects of Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C and will work with GBN to consider the potential role of further large gigawatt-scale nuclear power plants in the UK energy mix.
Building Safety Regulator announces first step towards regulating the building control profession
On Monday (17 July), the Building Safety Regulator announced two independent provider schemes for building control professionals to take the first step in becoming registered building inspectors. The Regulator said registration is a key part of making building control a regulated profession. The Building Safety Competence Foundation and the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE) have been named as the first organisations to become independent competence assessors for all building control surveyors in England. The competence assessment is part of the pathway for building control professionals to become registered building inspectors. More than 4,500 practicing building control professionals will need to be assessed and certified by April 2024 to ensure that they can continue to work in Building Control in England, as required by the Building Safety Act 2022.
Gove pledges to build 30,000 new social rented homes per year
In an interview with Daniel Hewitt, investigations correspondent at ITV News, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said that within the Government’s £11.5bn Affordable Homes Programme, he has “specifically insisted that we renegotiated and that we have more money being spent explicitly for homes for social rent”. It marks the first time Gove has given a figure for the number of social homes he wants to build. The number of new social rent homes being built has fallen from 39,562 a year in 2010 to 7,644 in 2021-22 – the same year that 24,932 were sold under the Right to Buy and 2,757 were demolished. When launching its inquiry into the financial sustainability of the social housing sector, Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, said there is “compelling evidence that England needs at least 90,000 net additional social rented homes a year and it is time for the Government to invest”.
DEFRA publishes Third National Adaptation Programme (NAP3)
On Monday, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published the Third National Adaptation Programme (NAP3) – a report setting out the actions that Government and others will need to take to adapt to the impacts of climate change from 2023 to 2028. NAP3 forms part of the 5-yearly cycle of requirements laid down in the Climate Change Act 2008. Ministers claim that the schemes laid out in the 140-page report will help boost the UK’s resilience to extreme weather and outline how to protect people, homes and businesses from events such as heatwaves, droughts and floods. However, the report has been criticised by many, including the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas who said that the plans “really lack in ambition”. The report follows a report from the Climate Change Committee which warned that Ministers had not made enough progress in adapting to rising global temperatures. NAP3 highlighted a pilot for a dedicated climate data tool to help councils plan and adapt to local challenges. DEFRA said it would also “prioritise nature-based solutions” to issues such as flooding and overheating in education settings by 2025, including rain garden drainage systems and natural shading for outdoor spaces.
However, Inside Housing reports the UKGBC’s analysis that that a national effort to adapt homes against overheating is “largely missing” from NAP3. Louise Hutchins, head of policy and public affairs at UKGBC, said that a nationwide strategy to install shutters, reflective paint and insulation was lacking from the plans. Hutchins said: “Extreme heat, flooding and drought hitting Europe right now leaves little to the imagination about what climate catastrophe will look like and makes clear that the UK’s homes and buildings just aren’t designed for this new normal”. While Hutchins welcomed NAP3 as an “important step forward”, she added that it needs to be “an urgent and ambitious plan to adapt to increasingly severe, frequent and extreme weather”.
IN THE NEWS
Report: How the UK can win the green growth prizes – Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
The CBI has warned that the UK’s progress to net zero is stalling. Urging all political parties to “press the accelerator” on net zero or risk falling behind the US, EU and China, the CBI referenced figures from the Energy Savings Trust which reveal that retrofitting poorly performing homes to EPC-C standard would lower energy bills by £8.1bn annually, reduce gas imports by 15% (bolstering energy security) and support 190,000 jobs across all regions of the UK to 2030. The result is a new report from the CBI – How the UK can win the green growth prizes – which sets out what it believes is an affordable responses to the US’ Inflation Reduction Act. The recommended measures in the report include:
- delivering a clear and stable policy environment to build business confidence, with all political parties putting green growth at the heart of their manifestos ahead of the forthcoming General Election
- devising a comprehensive and competitive set of incentives to enable investment in the green economy
- driving efficiency and improved coordination of delivery mechanisms, between government departments, regions and nations, and on skills and planning too.
HMRC to use Renters Reform Bill to hammer landlords – Landlord Today
Landlord Today reports that accountants are warning that the upcoming Renters’ Reform Bill will be used by HMRC to extract maximum tax from landlords. One particular measure in the Bill, the creation of a digital private rental property portal, could “significantly reshape the landscape of tax on rental income, profoundly impacting resident and non-resident landlords and investors.” The portal is expected to launch in Autumn 2025, assuming that Royal Assent of the Bill is granted in early 2024. Under the impending legislation, it will become mandatory for landlords to register themselves and their properties on the portal; failure to comply with regulations may result in significant financial penalties. The Renters (Reform) Bill also outlines the continuation of selective licensing, with potential new areas for licensing to be identified via the portal. Accountants are warning that failure to abide by licensing requirements can also add to the risk for landlords, especially if they have yet to declare their income from property.
Complaints and enquiries to ombudsman surge by 38% in last quarter – Inside Housing
Inside Housing reports that the number of complaints and enquiries to the Housing Ombudsman about social landlords increased by 38% in the last quarter. The Ombudsman’s latest quarterly data report revealed that it received 11,205 complaints and enquiries between January and March 2023, up from 8,123 in October to December 2022. The statistics for the latest quarter also show that property condition continues to be the most complained about category, accounting for 68% of all complaints. Alongside the data, the watchdog has published an insight report focusing on emerging themes and lessons from recurring cases.
Edie launches new report on reaching net-zero in the NHS – Edie
On Thursday (20 July), Edie published its Mission Positive NHS Spotlight Report which revealed that around of NHS Trusts are not on track to meet their decarbonisation targets. The NHS’s overall climate commitment is to cut emissions across all scopes by 80% by 2032, or sooner if possible. As part of the report, Edie explores the drivers, challenges and opportunities when it comes to accelerating decarbonisation across the NHS, along with the steps that can be taken to embrace a ‘net-positive’ philosophy.