Queen's Speech 2015
Snapdragon Consulting take a look at the Queen's Speech and what it means for the construction industry.
Just when you thought politics had finished for the year after the election, Her Majesty strolls into the Palace of Westminster and announces 25 new Bills to be brought forward during the course of this Parliament.
You can’t accuse the Government of being narrow in its approach. From making it illegal to increase Income Tax, VAT or National Insurance (begging the question, who gets punished if they do raise them and what’s the punishment), to devolving powers to a new breed of Metro-Mayors across the country, the Queen’s Speech was perhaps the most extensive for a number of years.
But what’s in it for the property and planning types? Well, two Bills will be of interest.
The pithily named Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill builds on George Osborne’s “Northern Powerhouse” theme, and will see “powers and budgets” devolved to English Cities “to boost local and regional growth, dependent upon establishing an elected mayor to lead the new authorities”. The Government has also said the Bill would build upon the Localism Act 2011 and look to explicitly devolve powers over healthcare, housing, policing and transport to local areas, as will be done in Greater Manchester, once a Metro-Mayor is in place. The Government is clearly so impressed with Boris in London that they want to spawn a new generation of Boris Johnson’s up and down the country. Depending on your view point, you’ll be filled with either joy or dread.
The much more pithily named Housing Bill sees the Conservative Party manifesto pledge to enable the Right to Buy, to be extended to all housing association properties. Local authorities will be required to dispose of so called “high value social housing” to help fund this extension and the building of more affordable homes. The delivery of starter homes will be another central pillar of the Housing Bill and the government will take forward it’s Right to Build policy that will see more custom and self-build properties delivered across the country.
Those are the two main Bills of the Queen’s Speech from a property and planning perspective, but there are a couple of others worth an honourable mention.
The HS2 scheme gets a boost with a Bill to provide the Government with the ability to get started on Phase One of the scheme, through the compulsory acquisition or temporary possession of land required for the plans. The Chilterns based Tory Members of Parliament will be spoiling for a fight on this one, so you have not heard the end of this.
Lastly, onshore wind farm developments of over 50MW will no longer need Secretary of State approval - however, with Eric Pickles now gone it seems like a waste.
The much trailed European Union Referendum Bill will come forward and economists will be monitoring the impact of that on real estate markets, among others. An Enterprise Bill establishing a Small Business Conciliation Service on late payments will come before Parliament. The Government are also limbering up for Trade Union Reform and battles with Scottish and Welsh Nationalists over their devolution settlements.
All in all, with the Lib Dems no longer in Government, this Conservative majority Government has created a wide-ranging agenda, with many battles ahead in the coming years.
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