The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill has been held up in the Commons as back bench revolts emerge on windfarms and housebuilding targets. Will the PM relent on his commitments to his Conservative party supporters or will his foes, including his two immediate predecessors – Johnson and Truss – win the day with amendments to the bill? The detail of the hold ups in the bill’s progress through parliament are set out in our monthly Parliamentary roundup that will be published next week.
We are also awaiting the appointment of the 12 levelling up ‘tsars’ some six months after the deadline for applications. Directors of Levelling Up are scheduled to be appointed for the nine English regions and one each for the devolved nations – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – but how long will the political machinations around the passage of the bill delay their appointments?
This week we published a briefing looking at what people in England really think about ‘levelling up’.
Housing and homelessness
As temperatures drop and we approach the Christmas period our thoughts are often focused on the homeless and the destitute. The Covid pandemic introduced a new emphasis and a government funded programme on getting rough sleepers off the streets but the warmer temperatures and the cost of living crisis has lessened the focus on homelessness. This briefing, from last month, looked at the ‘Housing First’ approach to homelessness.
This week we published a briefing on the options that local councils have to deliver truly affordable housing, with a focus on local housing companies. The briefing included eight case studies from authorities that have set up their own local housing companies across the country.
Health and social care
Our monthly health and social care roundup will be published on Monday. It sets out, and analyses, what the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has committed in funding to the health and social care sector for the year ahead and the likely impact of the delay in social care reforms.
This week the London Mayor announced that the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be expanded to cover the whole of the capital, following evidence that the current ULEZ has reduced air pollution by 50% in the areas (central and west London) that it currently covers.
This news tallied with statistics from the London Borough of Islington that the introduction of low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) had reduced traffic in those areas by 50% and not displaced it to other areas of the borough. This week we also learned that Bristol City Council has introduced its own Clean Air Zone to address the problem of air pollution in the city.
A couple of weeks ago we published our own briefing on what people need to know about air pollution in their areas and we’re planning a Global Local bulletin early in the New Year on air quality that brings together a wide variety of global best practice on improving air quality and bringing it to people’s attention. If your council is doing something interesting on air quality, we’d love to hear from you in the comments or through our ‘online suggestion box’.
An academic study has also revealed this week that Exeter is the ‘greenest’ city centre, closely followed by Islington, Bristol, Bournemouth and Cambridge. The metrics for the study look at tree cover, vegetation and parks.
So only two LGIU countries have made it out of the group stages. Congratulations Socceroos.
— Councillor Linda Scott (@ClrLindaScott) December 1, 2022
England have also made it to the knockout stages of the World Cup and Germany are out! That bodes well for the future progression of the England team, if they can get past Senegal on Sunday, but Germany were the one team that made the biggest statement in confronting the human rights record of Qatar when they staged that team photograph with their hands over their mouths – demonstrating the fact that FIFA has silenced teams from speaking out on the matter of human rights in their chosen host’s nation.
I hope that England will stage a similar PR demonstration – Harry Kane wearing the rainbow armband against Senegal, perhaps, despite the threat of a booking? Somehow, I doubt it will happen. So here is to you, Germany. You went out early but you made the biggest statement. Unless Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane stand up for what they truly believe in that transcends sport? I will await Sunday’s game with interest.