Week commencing 25 February 2019

In today's bulletin

• New social housing rent standard to be implemented in 2020
• Launch of UK energy infrastructure inquiry

• BEIS releases 2018 energy statistics
• Five-year growth forecast for the construction sector

Property, Planning and Regeneration

New social housing rent standard to be implemented in 2020

The Government has revised a 2014 direction on social housing rent standards. The new direction – published on Tuesday (26 February) – requires the social housing regulator to set a new rent standard for registered providers of social housing.
The new limit is calculated by increasing the average weekly rent for a tenant’s accommodation by CPI plus one per cent. The new direction will come into effect in April 2020.

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Five-year growth forecast for the construction sector

The Construction Skills Network (CSN) has forecast a five-year growth rate of 1.3 per cent for the sector, according to a report published on Monday (25 February) by the Construction Industry Trade board (CITB).
The estimate is one third of a per cent lower than last year, with the report pointing towards Brexit uncertainty as being partly responsible for decreasing infrastructure and commercial growth rates. The figures are based on the UK leaving the EU with a deal, rather than in a ‘No Deal’ scenario.

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CSFI report calls for housing policy to consider ‘last-time buyers’

A report released on Monday (25 February) has recommended that incentives be given to buyers looking to downsize, and that an ageing population has led to a need for more ‘last-time’ buyer-appropriate new builds.
Published by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI), the report claims that 50,000 fewer homes would need to be built if people lived in places more suited to their needs.

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9% increase in registered new homes in January

There has been a 9 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of new homes registered in January, according to the National House-Building Council (NHBC). Its findings, published in a report on Thursday (28 February), confirm that over 12,500 new homes were registered in January 2019,
and nearly 4,000 of those were registered in the affordable sector. NHBC Chief Executive Steve Wood said: “It is clear that Brexit uncertainties are affecting the private sector, and this will impact the months ahead.”

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Sluggish February for housing market

Nationwide’s house price index report has revealed that after a sedentary January, growth in house pricing has shown little improvement in February.
UK house prices were confirmed as only 0.4 per cent higher than this time last year, with a fall in new buyer enquiries over the period also reported.

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Rail Review chair says focus on the passengers

Keith Williams, independent chair of the Rail Review, has warned the rail industry that future success will only be possible if it makes passengers the priority.
At the annual Bradshaw address on 26 February, Mr Williams suggested that the rail franchising system cannot continue to operate as it currently does, and that it isn’t delivering clear benefits for taxpayers or farepayers anymore.

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Road Investment Strategy needs to benefit road users

Road user priorities must be considered under the Department of Transport’s Road Investment Strategy Performance Specification, according to Transport Focus and the Office for Rail and Road (ORR).
The report, published on Thursday (28 February), suggests that the Department of Transport should give more weight to road user priorities when it sets out next year’s specification for Highways England. It confirmed that key priorities for road users include road safety improvement and ensuring a well-maintained road network.

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Energy and environment

Launch of UK energy infrastructure inquiry

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEIS) launched an inquiry to examine the Government’s approach to financing future energy projects on Thursday (28 February).
The committee’s chair, Rachel Reeves MP, noted that there was a “giant hole” in UK energy policy, citing recent investment decisions about nuclear projects and the declining use of coal. The inquiry intends to consider investment in future energy capacity, including renewables, and is inviting written feedback and evidence.

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BEIS releases 2018 energy statistics

Primary energy production rose by 2.9 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to figures released on Thursday (28 February). The report from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) confirms this as the fourth consecutive year of growth.
Renewable energy production increased, with renewables accounting for a record high of 27.5 per cent of electricity supplied. Consumption of oil and nuclear dropped, and consumption of coal decreased to a record low.

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NIC launches consultation on energy, water and telecoms regulations

The National Infrastructure Commission has announced a consultation on the regulatory framework for infrastructure, with a focus on energy, water and telecoms. The consultation will last eight weeks, closing on 12 April 2019.
It is a call for evidence on the successes and failures of existing industry regulation and views on policy consistency. The Commission will use the consultation feedback to help it assess how future investment demands, industry innovation and competition and consumer needs can be better accommodated over the next 30 years.

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