Queen’s Speech 2022: What Bills are set to have an impact on the built environment?

David Barnes

Policy & Public Affairs Manager

Last updated: 13th May 2022

On 10 May 2022, CIOB responded to the Queen’s Speech, marking the official State Opening of Parliament. The speech, delivered for the first time by the Prince of Wales, set out the Government’s agenda for the 2022-23 session, outlining key policies and proposed legislation. In total, thirty-eight Bills were announced, five of which were carried over from the 2021-22 parliamentary session, such as the High-Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill.

The speech reinforced Government’s commitment to stimulate economic growth, address the cost-of-living crisis, and generate opportunities for more high-wage, high-skilled jobs, to ‘level-up’ the country. This includes proposals to improve the planning process, enhancing community involvement, and simplifying procurement to widen-access for smaller businesses.

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill makes provision for the setting of twelve levelling-up missions and reporting on progress in delivering them. It also contains elements from the scrapped Planning Bill which received backlash from campaigners, voters, and MPs. It was most notably seen during the 2021 Chesham and Amersham by-election where there was a thirty per cent swing away from the Conservative candidate in the wake of large levels of proposed development.

The new Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill includes new powers for local authorities to bring empty premises back into use and instigate rental auctions of vacant commercial properties in town centres and high streets, as well as changes to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and imposition of an Infrastructure Levy.

While we welcome the Government’s agenda to address English regional inequality. Research from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Pace think tank at Teesside University and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation indicates there is a risk of the levelling-up being undermined through a lack of funding. It is therefore important that the new Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill focuses on rebalancing the economy in the regions through realistic measures that distributes funding equally and sticks to the original missions outlined in the Conservative party manifesto.

On housing, a Renters’ Reform Bill will reform passion grounds for landlords, introducing new and stronger grounds for repeated incidences of rent arrears and reducing notice periods for anti-social behaviour, ensuring that they can regain their property efficiently when needed. Pleasingly, the Decent Homes Standard will be applied to the Private Rented Sector (PRS) for the first time, improving quality and safety for consumers moving into the market.

The Government also announced plans to bring forward a long-awaited Procurement Bill, seeking to reform the UK’s public procurement regime to create a simpler and more transparent system that better meets the country’s needs.  

We are pleased to see public procurement addressed by the Government and we will be emphasising the importance of recognising businesses that are seeking to deliver greater social, environmental, and economic outcomes. Public procurement should focus on wider-value rather than lowest cost and mechanisms such as the Construction Innovation Hub’s Value Toolkit are enablers for improving value-based decision making. This will be key for ‘levelling-up’ the regions where each place has its own strategic values to achieve that helps to improve the community’s social, economic, and environmental standing.

On energy and the environment, there is a new Energy Security Bill aimed at developing carbon capture usage and storage systems and growing the consumer market for heat pumps. Government have also introduced a UK Infrastructure Bank Bill to enshrine the Bank in legislation and ensure it will be a long-lasting institution with a mandate to support economic growth and the delivery of net zero.

Lastly, a Higher Education Bill will seek to ensure the post-18 education system promotes social mobility and help support people get the skills they need to meet their career aspirations. However, we are disappointed at the absence of an Employment Bill to support the delivery of these Bills. The covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated persistent labour and skills shortages across the construction sector which has lasting implications for those employed and seeking employment. Without a future pool of talent coming into the sector and being retained in the industry, any ambitions to build the necessary homes and infrastructure as part of the Government’s levelling-up agenda will cost more and potentially reach a hard stop within a short space of time.

CIOB’s policy and public affairs team will monitor the progression of the Bills closely, to understand the possible implications for the built environment, and ensure future legislation reflects the industry and public’s interest. Should you have any questions, want to learn more, or help form our positions, then please contact the policy and public affairs team on [email protected].