Policy Round-Up: September 2021
It was all change at Westminster this month as Parliament returned from the Summer recess, with the Prime Minister enacting a major cabinet reshuffle. Michael Gove has replaced Robert Jenrick as the new Housing Secretary at MHCLG, which has been re-named the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Oliver Dowden moved from DCMS to become Conservative Party Chairman, and Nadine Dorries replaced him as Culture Secretary at DCMS. Caroline Dinenage has stepped down as Minister of State for Heritage, and Julia Lopez has been appointed Minister of State for DCMS.
We have written to the new ministers to introduce our work and set out our policy priorities, and look forward to establishing new relationships with them over the coming months. Ahead of the Budget on 27 October, we are also writing to MPs from across the political spectrum to ask for support for key measures including improvements to the tax framework and reform of the planning system. The budget will be announced on the same day as a three year spending review, which will set out the budgets for government departmental spending.
There is a sense that we are entering a new phase of the political cycle, with the worst of the pandemic now behind us and travel restrictions continuing to ease across the UK. The Government is now looking towards the next general election which could be as early as Spring 2023, and the Conservative Party Conference next week will reveal their strategic priorities for this next phase.
Also this month, the First Minister published the Programme for Government in Scotland for 2021-2022. Among various measures announced were commitments on housing, including the promise of a consultation this year on improving energy performance in all homes, as well as a £20 million Rural Entrepreneur Fund to support new rural businesses and other measures to boost the post-Covid recovery.
Whilst it the Planning Bill and the Heritage Statement are now likely to have been delayed by the ministerial reshuffle, we are still anticipating some significant policy developments this Autumn. The Environment Bill is in its final phases, the recommendations of the Law Commission on Weddings Law are expected by December, and the government consultation on Permitted Development Rights closes next month. The outcome of each of these will have a potentially significant impact on our members’ businesses, and we will be monitoring all developments closely as they are announced.
Lydia and James, the policy team.