Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
Autumn Statement drives forward mission to level up
A major £450 million pound levelling up package revealed at this week’s Autumn Statement.
The Chancellor outlined a major £450 million pound levelling up package at this week’s Autumn Statement which will drive economic growth in all parts of the country. This new funding comes on top of the billions we have already allocated through Levelling Up Partnerships, Investment Zones and additional money for transformative projects across the country.
The continued backing for our mission to Level Up comes after the third round of allocations from the Government’s flagship Levelling Up Fund which has now awarded £4.8 billion to initiatives that will drive economic growth in communities everywhere.
Investment Zones and Freeports
Investment Zones are an opportunity to embed innovation throughout the economy. They support the growth of priority sectors, leveraging existing strengths to drive rapid expansion. This week we announced new Investment Zones, each of which has already received investment from the private sector: focused on advanced manufacturing in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, on green industries in the East Midlands, on life sciences in West Yorkshire, and, in partnership with the Welsh Government, two Investment Zones for Wales – one in Cardiff and Newport and a second in Wrexham and Flintshire.
We also increased the duration of Investment Zones and Freeports, which will last to ten years – doubling their value to communities across the United Kingdom. The government is also creating a £150million flexible Investment Opportunity Fund to support Investment Zones and Freeports to secure business investment over the next five years.
Levelling Up Partnerships
The UK Government has committed £80 million for the expansion of the Levelling Up Partnerships programme to Scotland, for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Argyll and Bute, Dundee, and the Scottish Borders. We have worked closely in collaboration with Scottish Government on the methodology to select places and will design a programme that fits within the Scottish policy context.
We will work with Welsh Government on potential opportunities in Wales and continue to work with local stakeholders on how best to level up communities in Northern Ireland. The programme extends the announcement of 20 initial Levelling Up Partnerships in England at Spring Budget 2023, which built on the success of initial trials of such partnership working in Blackpool, North East Lincolnshire and Northumberland.
Bespoke Levelling Up Capital Funding
Following the third round of the £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund, we have committed a further £37.5 million for five additional capital projects. This will support regeneration, transport and culture, and will fund; the Isles of Scilly Museum and Cultural Centre; Fakenham Leisure and Sports Hub; the Inspiring Eden Enterprise Hub; transport in Chepstow, including through the town’s Transport Hub; and in Warrington, by improving local connections.
We are also providing £15m to Bolsover to ensure all Priority Places, identified by the Levelling Up Need metrics set out in the Levelling Up White Paper, have received government investment. There will also be £5 million for Barrow-in-Furness – where significant contributions to national security are being made, but investment is needed to unlock housing growth, regenerate the town centre, and deliver a range of measures across transport, skills and education
The Autumn Statement also represents another step forward for devolution seeing more power transferred from Westminster to local people who know their communities best.
We have confirmed four new devolution deals – ‘level 3’ mayoral deals for Greater Lincolnshire, Hull and East Yorkshire; and non-mayoral deals for Cornwall and Lancashire at level 2. We have also confirmed that we are in advanced negotiations with Devon and Torbay about a ‘level 2’ devolution deal for the area.
As we widen the pool of devolution, we also continue to deepen it: a new ‘level four’ in our devolution framework offers local authorities more devolved spending in the future, greater control of spending from the Affordable Homes Programme, and more local control over adult skills, transport, and achieving net zero. For Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, we have published a new memorandum of understanding that sets out how these areas will exercise control over a single funding settlement.
We can only level up if we build the beautiful homes that communities need. The Autumn Statement backed the Government’s long-term plan for housing which provides the roadmap for how this can be achieved.
The plan focuses on building the right homes in the right places, including ambitious plans to accelerate developments in Cambridge, Leeds and London.
Cambridge, Leeds and London
We will tackle their respective challenges, whether that is by addressing water scarcity near Cambridge or supporting ambitious plans for a new West Yorkshire mass transit system, as part of Network North.
In Leeds, £2 million will support Leeds City Council to develop integrated plans for three new city quarters that will bring together housing, transport and economic investments to transform the liveability and productivity of the centre of Leeds.
In London, £23 million for a new bus network will unlock housing as part of Docklands 2.0.
In Cambridge, we are allocating £9 million – including £5 million of new funding – to improve the barrier of water scarcity and accelerate the new Cambridge Delivery Group.
Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme
Our housing associations and local authorities are critical to boosting overall housing supply, we cannot build the homes we need without them. By extending the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme by £3 billion we will help the already successful scheme support the delivery a total of 20,000 new affordable homes, as well as supporting works to improve quality and energy efficiency.
Home Buying Process
This Government is committed to removing the barriers that make buying a home unnecessarily difficult. We will exploit the potential of new technology to improve the buying and selling process, including running pilots to develop ‘proptech’ products and digitise council property data. We will continue our reforms to the process of purchasing and selling homes.
The Government has allocated £450 million across two years to a third round of the Local Authority Housing Fund, which will help support Afghans on resettlement schemes and others in temporary housing need. This funding allows councils to manage homelessness pressures more effectively and makes it easier for vulnerable people to find settled accommodation.
The government is providing £120 million for local authorities to invest in homelessness prevention, supporting private renters to remain in their homes and providing temporary accommodation to families and individuals. We will also continue to support our guests from Ukraine, rightly extending the ‘thank you’ payments for sponsors across the UK into a third year.
The government is increasing the Local Housing Allowance to cover the 30th percentile of local market rents. This will make 1.6 million low-income households better off, with an average gain of £800 in 2024-25. Rates will be raised across Great Britain in April 2024.
We will maintain a focus on the blockers to development, recognising the scale of the challenge. We are injecting up to £17 million in additional funding into the planning system to help local authorities reduce planning application backlogs, making it easier to get new homes approved and built.
Where there are reasonable proposals to reconfigure homes, we will make this easier, consulting on a new permitted development right to streamline planning decisions for homeowners.
We are also publishing a new prospectus on infrastructure delivery that sets out how we will go further than our current reforms. Only by building major infrastructure faster and cheaper will we prepare the UK for the challenges of the 2030s and 2040s, lay the foundations for the economy of the future, and make sure that everyone, everywhere, benefits from the opportunities ahead.
Nutrient Neutrality – Local Nutrient Mitigation Fund
Unlocking much needed homes held up by defective EU rules remains a priority. The House of Lords voted against Government proposals that would have unlocked over 100,000 homes, whilst protecting and improving the environment. This is despite the reforms having had the strong support of housebuilders and local authorities. The Government is now focusing on making rapid progress in unlocking homes within the existing legal framework, in order to meet our manifesto commitment to build one million homes over this Parliament. That is why we will make £110 million available through the Local Nutrient Mitigation Fund, to help planning authorities in affected areas deliver tens of thousands more homes before the end of the decade.
In response to the Nutrient Neutrality measures, the following stakeholders said:
Melanie Leech, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation recently said:
We welcome these measures, which promote growth, through incentivising planning delivery. Long and uncertain time taken in planning can increase risk and project costs considerably. On complex projects, developers are generally willing to invest in planning delivery if it guarantees a good service. We await the details, but the principle of what the Chancellor is doing is very much supported.
Local Development Orders (LDOs) are an innovative part of our planning regime, offering locally determined flexibility. We have long been supporters of their greater use, as we believe they can help support the regeneration and repurposing of places like town centres. It is therefore well received that the Government is putting some resource behind some local planning authorities, to allow them to test LDOs.
Simon Carter, Chief Executive of British Land recently said:
The time it takes to secure planning permission is increasing. We therefore welcome the specific measures announced by the Government today, to speed up planning delivery and provide greater certainty for developers and investors. We are strong advocates for practical, deliverable planning reform, to unlock urban regeneration and drive growth and productivity in towns and cities across the country.
Mark Allan, Chief Executive of Landsec recently said:
We’ve been campaigning for a focused approach to planning reform to unlock the huge potential of brownfield urban regeneration. The measures announced today, combined with a plan to provide proper resourcing of the planning system, should move us in the right direction to generate more growth, more homes and more jobs around the country.
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