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Government launches Levelling Up White Paper

The Government has launched its White Paper on Levelling Up the United Kingdom.  The White Paper is intended to deliver on the Conservative Party’s 2019 General Election commitment to “level up” the country and says “Levelling up means giving everyone the opportunity to flourish. It means people everywhere living longer and more fulfilling lives, and benefitting from sustained rises in living standards and well-being”.

The policy programme set out in the White Paper consists of the following headings:

  • Boost Productivity, Pay, Jobs, and Living Standards by Growing the Private Sector
  • Spread Opportunities and Improve Public Services
  • Restore a Sense of Community, Local Pride and Belonging and
  • Empower Local Leaders and Communities.

The White Paper includes a number of proposals relating to housing including:

  • Extending the remit of Homes England to include the regeneration of towns and cities
  • Scrapping the 80/20 rule, whereby 80% of funding for housing supply is directed at “maximum affordability areas”, effectively prioritising new housing supply in the South East
  • Reiterating the intention to abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions in the private rented sector
  • Requiring all homes in the private rented sector to meet the Decent Homes Standard
  • Consulting on introducing a landlords register and setting out plans for a crackdown on rogue landlords
  • Looking to limit the competition that first-time buyers face which in turn will bring down the increased costs driven by that competition
  • Reviewing the buying and selling process to reduce the costs that prospective purchasers pay before they have secured a property
  • Setting out a “devolution framework” with three levels of devolution, under which areas with a directly elected mayor will have significant control over housing spend, including grant funding via the Affordable Homes Programme
  • Reiterating the commitment to “building more genuinely affordable housing” and
  • Introducing a Social Housing Regulation Bill as outlined in the 2020 Social Housing White Paper.

The Government intends to put in place a comprehensive process of engagement and informal consultation to inform levelling up delivery and future policy-making.  In due course it will bring forward appropriate legislation including reforms to the planning system which are set out in the White Paper.  The Government has also committed to publishing a White Paper in the private rented sector in the Spring of this year.