CIOB Analysis of the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill – Rhetoric vs Reality
Following the Queen’s Speech in May 2022, the UK Government finally unveiled the latest instalment of its flagship domestic agenda – the ‘Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill’. As the Bill progresses through the legislative process, it is timely to remind ourselves of the social and economic issues it seeks to address; and consider where CIOB requires further detail from Government.
The concept of ‘levelling up’, while not entirely new, (re)-appeared on our political radar in 2019, during Boris Johnson’s first speech as Prime Minister; where he pledged to ‘build prosperity, strengthen and level up every part of the country… through higher wages and productivity’.
In the two Queen’s Speeches that followed, the Government reiterated its commitment to levelling up and set out plans to publish a White Paper. Initially scheduled for publication in October 2021 alongside the budget and spending review, the White Paper did not materialise until February 2022.
Weighing in at over 400 pages, the much-anticipated White Paper set out a framework for the Government’s plan of action; this comprised of 12 ‘missions’ to reduce geographical disparities. These included, empowering local decision makers though greater devolved powers, securing paths to homeownership, improving the interconnectivity of communities new and existing, investing in research and development, and increasing the number of people completing high-quality skills training, amongst others.
By structuring the levelling up agenda around a series of missions, this indicates the Government’s intention to collaborate across multiple departments and agencies. Enhanced devolution arrangements also present an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between central and local government and empower councils to deliver for their communities and economies.
However, part of the challenge in implementing legislation targeting left-behind regions and communities includes balancing the different responsibilities managed by various legislators across England, both at a local and national scale. To facilitate the transition of the Levelling Up White Paper into practical policy, its ongoing development and delivery is currently being supported by the Levelling Up Select Committee. CIOB welcomes cross-party, central and local government efforts to implement an integrated and cohesive approach.
As the Bill progresses onto its second reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday 8 June 2022, a key question of the CIOB, is to what extent will a joined-up approach become embedded into our policy ecosystem?
Levelling up provides significant opportunity for construction and building product companies, commercial and residential subsectors, and related supply chains to develop strategies and capabilities that fuel innovation and growth – to reinvent the ways we operate, invest, plan, and deliver future construction projects, so that they consider and benefit the built, social, and natural environment, and which support the UK’s current and future regeneration and affordable housing needs.
However, to avoid levelling up and regeneration policies becoming a political football, where the need for constant ‘improvement’ reflects moving goal posts, cross-party consensus, sustained over multiple Government’s is necessary. The country cannot level up on rhetoric. A programme to address regional inequalities requires urgent action, a long-term commitment, and investment at scale, which goes beyond 2030.
CIOB’s policy and public affairs team will monitor the progression of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill closely, to understand the possible implications for the built environment, and to ensure that future legislation reflects the industry and public’s interest.
Should you have any questions, want to learn more, or help form our positions, then please contact Tallulah Eyres, CIOB Policy & Public Affairs Officer – North on [email protected]
You can also find more information and follow the Bill on the Parliament website.