What are the Housing Aspects of the Levelling Up White Paper?

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24 February, 2022

Laura Ryan

The government has recently published its flagship Levelling Up White Paper, a plan which sets out 12 "missions" that the government will aim to achieve by 2030. The most relevant mission affecting the housing sector is "By 2030, renters will have a secure path to ownership with the number of first-time buyers increasing in all areas; and the government's ambition is for the number of non-decent rented homes to have fallen by 50%, with the biggest improvements in the lowest performing areas."

What does Levelling up actually mean?

Levelling up should improve standard of living across the country and it should help every place reach its "productivity potential". It is described as a moral, social and economic programme for the whole of the government. One of its main objectives is to spread opportunity across the country more equally.

What are the main implications for the housing sector?

The Paper intends to "restore national pride":

  • by supporting 20 towns and city centres. Homes England, who are the government's main housing delivery agency, will be given a much wider remit to include the regeneration of towns and cities, and will support the government by leading this work. The Agency will support 20 towns and city centres to undertake "King's Cross style regeneration projects". According to the Paper, there will be funding set aside for this and Homes England will use its resources, expertise, experience and buying power whilst working on this;
  • by scrapping the 80/20 rule, which leads to 80% of government funding for housing supply directed at 'maximum affordability areas'. This will no doubt be a relief for Housing Associations. The ending of this rule will hopefully lead to more public investment being available to support regeneration needs;
  • by abolishing Section 21 'no fault' evictions. The Paper reiterates that the government intends to keep its promise to end the unfair situations where tenants can be evicted for no reason. It also confirmed that the plan is to have all homes in the private rented sector meeting the Decent Homes Standard.
  • by boosting homeownership. This will be accomplished as a result of the new £1.5 billion Levelling Up Home Building Fund, which will provide loans to SMEs and support the UK government's wider regeneration agenda in areas that are a priority. Elements of this will include limiting the competition that first-time buyers face; reviewing the buying and selling process and reducing costs that prospective purchasers have to pay before securing a property; and exploring how to ensure that critical information is available to buyers;
  • by committing to building more genuinely affordable social housing. A new Social Housing Regulation Bill will be introduced to support this. The details of this were outlined in the Social Housing White Paper in 2020; and
  • by introducing a new "devolution revolution", which will invite nine areas to agree new county deals and ministers will seek to agree further mayoral combined authority deals for York and North Yorkshire.

The Prime Minister stated "the defining mission of the government has been to level up this country, to break the link between geography and destiny so that no matter where you live you have access to the same opportunities". The plan is to transform the UK by spreading opportunity equally across the country. This could have huge implications on the housing sector and it is vital that those in the housing sector are aware of the above effects.

For more information contact Laura Ryan in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01772 220230. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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