The UK government is taking steps to turn its election slogan of “levelling up the country” into a tangible reality with the introduction of the “Leveling Up and Regeneration” bill. The bill contains 12 missions that aim to improve various aspects of the country, including boosting productivity and pay, spreading opportunities, improving public services, restoring a sense of community, and empowering local leaders. The government aims to achieve all 12 missions by 2030 and will provide annual updates on their progress.
The “Leveling Up and Regeneration” bill is the government’s attempt to create a moral, social, and economic program for the entire government. The 12 missions are organised into four focus areas: boosting productivity, pay, jobs, and living standards; spreading opportunity and improving public services; restoring a sense of community, local pride, and belonging; and empowering local leaders and communities.
The bill requires the government to provide annual updates on their progress towards achieving the 12 missions, and gives them the power to change metrics, target dates, and even the missions themselves. While this flexibility may be beneficial in some cases, it also raises questions about accountability and the government’s commitment to achieving their goals.
The “Leveling Up and Regeneration” bill is a monumental effort, but it remains to be seen whether it will be successful in its efforts to level up the country. The government’s lack of concrete measures to address regional inequality and the power given to them to change the missions and targets have been criticised. However, the bill does appear to address some of the bureaucracy surrounding planning and development and may lead to positive changes in the future.
Changes in Councils and Planning
The “Leveling Up and Regeneration” bill aims to make significant changes to councils and planning in the UK. One of the key changes is the creation of something called “combined county authorities.” This new type of combined authority will group only the upper tiers of councils in two-tiered areas, enabling devolution in these areas. However, this plan has been met with resistance from the District Councils network, which argues that it will strain relations in two-tiered county areas.
Another significant change in the bill relates to planning. The compulsory purchase rules are being changed to speed up projects that require this instrument. The Secretary of State will now be able to decide whether or not to hold a public inquiry if someone objects to a compulsory purchase order, effectively taking away the legal right to an inquiry. The government argues that this will increase efficiency.
The bill also introduces a street vote system, giving local residents the power to propose new developments and hold votes on whether planning permission should be granted to new builds in their area. Local areas will also be required to introduce a design code, which should better inform planning decisions. The goal of these changes is to give local areas more control over how developers change their area.
Finally, a new infrastructure levy will be introduced, which developers will have to pay to cover new infrastructure projects. The levy is charged on the value of properties when sold by developers, with the exact rate set by local planning authorities.
Criticisms of the Bill
The “Leveling Up and Regeneration” bill has received criticism from various quarters, despite the government’s efforts to level up the country. One of the main criticisms is that the bill does not do enough to address regional inequality, which is a significant issue in the UK.
The only mention of regional inequality in the bill is the requirement for the government to set medium-term missions and report annually on their progress. However, this alone has been criticised as insufficient to ensure that the missions drive the policy as intended.
|Increase Pay, Employment, and Productivity
|Increase pay, employment, and productivity in every part of the UK.
|Globally Competitive Cities
|Each region should contain a globally competitive city.
|Reduce the gap between top-performing areas and other areas.
|Improved Education and Training
|Improve access to education and training opportunities for everyone.
|Ensure that everyone has access to high-quality healthcare services.
|Increased Housing Availability
|Increase the number of homes available in the UK.
|Improved Transport Connections
|Improve transport connections between different regions of the UK.
|Increased R&D Investment
|Increase investment in research and development across all regions of the UK.
|Support for Business Growth
|Support businesses to start up and grow across all regions of the UK.
|Promote clean growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all regions of the UK.
|Access to Green Spaces
|Ensure that everyone has access to nature-rich green spaces, regardless of where they live in the UK.
|Improved Public Services
|Improve public services so that they are more responsive to local needs.
The Institute for Government has argued that the 12 missions outlined in the bill are not ambitious enough, too ambitious to be realistic, lack specificity, have too narrow a focus, or don’t align with the overall objectives.
Labour’s leveling up housing communities and local government shadow secretary, Lisa Nandy, has argued that the bill allows the government to change its missions on a whim and that the bill is more aimed at dealing with housing and planning than leveling up democracy and devolution.
Similarly, the Scottish National Party (SNP) spokesperson, Patricia Gibson, has criticised the bill, saying that the government has given itself the power to change targets that look like they won’t be met. In the Lords, Baroness Sue Hayman has described the bill as a strange mishmash, a “Christmas tree bill” on which anyone can hang anything.
the “Leveling Up and Regeneration” bill introduced by the Department for Levelling Up is a mammoth bill that aims to translate the government’s election slogan of levelling up the country into something more tangible. The bill contains 12 missions, which are organised into four focus areas, including boosting productivity, pay, jobs and living standards, spreading opportunity and improving public services, restoring a sense of community, local pride and belonging, and empowering local leaders and communities.
However, the bill has received criticism for its lack of concrete measures to address regional inequality, the government’s flexibility to change metrics and missions, and the bill’s focus on housing and planning rather than leveling up democracy and devolution. The 12 missions outlined in the bill have also been criticised as not ambitious enough, too ambitious to be realistic, lacking specificity, having too narrow a focus, or not aligning with the overall objectives.
Despite these criticisms, the bill does introduce significant changes in councils and planning, including the creation of combined county authorities, changes in compulsory purchase rules, the introduction of a street vote system, a requirement for local areas to introduce a design code, and a new infrastructure levy.
The “Leveling Up and Regeneration” bill is a complex piece of legislation that aims to tackle regional inequality and improve public services, but it remains to be seen whether it will succeed in achieving its goals and addressing the criticisms it has received.