Week commencing 18 March 2019

In today's bulletin

  • House price growth lowest for six years
  • Committee publishes critical report on Government's industrial Strategy
  • Government announces £90m investment in transport innovation
  • Wind power breaks record

Property, Planning and Regeneration

House price growth lowest for six years

Average UK house prices increased by 1.7 per cent in the year to January 2019, according to data from HM Land Registry, Registers of Scotland, and Land and Property Services Northern Ireland.
The data, published on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website on 20 March, indicates that this is the lowest annual rate since June 2013, when it was 1.5 per cent. The ONS also states that there has been a slowdown in UK house price growth, driven by a slowdown in the south and east of England.

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New reforms designed to protect leaseholders

In a report published on 19 March the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee called for wide ranging reforms to leaseholds.
The report, Leasehold Reform details how key elements of the current system are open to abuse and are without defined purpose. The report goes on to make a number of recommendations, including ground rent reforms, which will provide greater transparency for leaseholders.

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Committee publishes critical report on government’s Industrial Strategy

In a report published on 19 March, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has warned the government that its industrial strategy is at risk of failing, due to its neglect of key sectors.
Despite recognising the government’s progress in hi-tech sectors such as offshore wind, the report calls for the government to do more across other sectors to boost productivity. The BEIS committee identified retail and hospitality as areas in particular need of better engagement.

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Government launches consultation on private sector infrastructure investment

The government launched an open consultation on 13 March, as part of its work to establish a comprehensive National Infrastructure Strategy.
The consultation will consider how the government can better support private sector investment in the delivery of viable infrastructure projects, particularly after departure from the European Investment Bank.

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Growth in private rental up 1.1 per cent in year up to February

The latest Index of Private Housing Rental Prices (IPHRP) shows that prices have risen by 1.1 per cent in the year leading up to February 2019 – up from 1.0 per cent in January 2019.
February’s figures show a 1.1 per cent growth across England and Wales and 0.7 per cent in Scotland. However, growth in Greater London was only 0.2 per cent, with figures suggesting that Greater London’s exclusion from the analysis would actually show a 1.6 per cent rental growth in England.

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Plans for increasing the social value of construction announced

On 21 March, the Considerate Constructors scheme announced its blueprint for delivering value over the next decade. The non-profit organisation works with industry stakeholders and businesses to better enhance the construction industry’s image.
The scheme, which aims to deliver benefits to communities, contractors, suppliers and clients, has made social value the driving force of its new strategy. The scheme plans to enhance community engagement, developing a focused PR and consumer-facing marketing plan and considering how technology-based initiatives can bolster success in the industry.

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Government announces £90m investment in transport innovation

The government has announced a transport review to explore regulation around new methods of transport, such as e-scooters and e-cargo bike trainers.
The review, announced on Tuesday (19 March) will also look at how data sharing can reduce congestion, and examine more generally how to make journeys greener and safer.

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Report backs plans for Cambridgeshire Metro

A report released on Tuesday (19 March) by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has said there is a “compelling case” for the proposed Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro.
The battery-powered tram would cost an estimated £4 billion and would include 12 kilometres of tunnelling between two underground stations in the city centre and at Cambridge Station.

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‘Pay-as-you-go’ roads could replace funding lost by move to electric vehicles

A report by the Institute of Civil Engineers has highlighted the potential for a pay-as-you-go road network, saying this would be supported by the public if this replaced current road taxation.
The report highlights the significant decline in fuel and vehicle excise duty expected as more motorists move to electric vehicles and take advantage of the tax breaks offered. It also warns the government that the road network needs to be reshaped by 2030 to ensure its future funding.

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Energy and environment

Wind power breaks record

Onshore and offshore windfarms generated 38 per cent of the UK’s electricity last week. This is a new weekly record from wind and is more than from any other power source last week, according to data provided by Aurora Energy Research.
The figures show that offshore wind provided 23.3 per cent of the energy alone last week, more than nuclear (20.9 per cent). Emma Pinchbeck, Deputy Chief Executive of RenewableUK said; “It’s interesting to see that offshore wind outperformed nuclear, showing the way our modern energy mix is changing, with low-cost wind energy becoming the backbone of our clean energy system”.

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Not enough water by 2044

England will be at the “jaws of death” within 25 years, Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency has warned. In a speech at Waterwise Conference on 19 March, he said that there won’t be enough water to supply the country’s needs, due to hotter and drier summers.
Warning that unless something is done, the amount of water available could be reduced by 10 to 15 per cent, with some rivers seeing 50 to 80 per cent less water in summer months, increasing the risk of droughts.

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Largest-ever study on childrens’ exposure to air pollution

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London has launched a study to monitor childrens’ exposure to air pollution in the capital, as the latest part of the Breathe London project.
The study, which is the largest of its kind, will use state-of-the-art ‘backpacks’ to monitor the quality of the air children are exposed to on their way to and from school and also during lessons.

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Other News

New report suggests local income tax could bring more funding to councils

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has published a report which assesses the viability of local income tax, following calls from councils. The IFS argues that devolution would provide financial incentives for councils to grow their
economies and increase their revenue streams. David Philips, the author of the report and associate director at the IFS, said that local income tax appears to be the best option if the government sought significant tax devolution.

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