Earlier this week, the government unveiled a number of housing bills and policy updates as part of the ceremonial reopening of Parliament.
The speech, which was delivered by Prince Charles in lieu of the Queen, detailed a series of bills currently making – or due to make – their way through parliament.
On housing, the speech explicitly referenced planning reform, social housing regulatory reform, ‘levelling up,’ and the cost-of-living crisis.
While reactions to the speech have been mixed, the majority seems to have welcomed the government’s announcements.
Here’s what some of the most influential players had to say.
National Housing Federation
Taking to Twitter, Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation (NHF), said: “We fully support the government’s aim to strengthen tenants’ rights through the Social Housing Regulation Bill.
“Housing associations stand ready to work with their residents & the government to ensure every home delivers on the high standards they expect.
“We agree with the government’s strategy to address the huge disparities in the economies of towns and cities across the country through #LevellingUp, and we welcome the decision to give local communities, who know their area best, more powers over regeneration.
“Housing associations also share the government’s #NetZero ambition and will do everything in their power to support the transition to cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy.
“We face a grave affordable #HousingCrisis which continues to worsen. We look forward to working with the government to ensure any changes to the planning system deliver the number and types of affordable home the country desperately needs.”
Chartered Institute of Housing
James Prestwich, director of Policy and External Affairs at the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), said: “CIH fully supports the government’s aim to strengthen tenants’ rights through a social housing reform bill and is pleased to see a commitment to it in this Parliament.
“This is an important legislative step to ensure residents are empowered to have increased influence over decisions about their homes, underpinned by stronger powers for the regulator on consumer standards.
“As the professional body, we will continue to work with our members and residents to deliver on this important agenda.
“We also welcome the news that a renters’ reform bill will put legal duties on landlords to meet the Decent Homes Standard and introduce the promised abolition of section 21 no fault evictions, bringing increased security for private renters.
“When the nation faces a worsening affordable housing and cost-of-living crisis, this change is long overdue. However, we’re disappointed that the government is not taking more concerted action to provide direct support to people struggling with day-to-day costs.
“We support the government’s strategy to address inequalities across the country with a levelling up and regeneration bill.
“We welcome elements of the proposed planning reforms – increasing people’s involvement in the planning process and measures to provide local communities more powers over regeneration.
“However, at a time of chronic housing shortages, the government must ensure that the planning system supports the continuous delivery of new housing, including much needed social rented homes.
“We look forward to working with the government to ensure any changes to the planning system deliver the number and types of affordable homes the country desperately needs.
“We also support the government’s ambitions to transition to cheaper, cleaner, and more secure energy, aided by an Energy Security Bill.
“However, we’re disappointed not to see a focus on insulation. As people struggle with the rising energy cost, we cannot afford to lose heat through energy inefficient homes.
“Many of the measures in this Queen’s speech reflect changes which CIH has been calling for, but we’re disappointed not to see the government taking meaningful action to address the rising cost of living crisis. We will continue to press the case for this ahead of the autumn budget.”
Local Government Association
Cllr Darren Rodwell, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA), said: “Proposals to strengthen both the role of the Housing Ombudsman and the Regulator in the Social Housing Regulation Bill are positive, to increase the rights of tenants and enable tenants to better hold their landlord to account.
“Councils want their tenants to have the security of a safe and well-maintained home with any issues quickly and satisfactorily addressed, and we are keen to continue working with councils, the Regulator and the Ombudsman to support the implementation of the reforms.
“We are pleased that the government has committed to introducing legislation through the Renters Reform Bill to strengthen protections for private renters and abolish ‘no-fault evictions’.
“This is something the LGA and councils have been calling for the government to introduce since it was included in its 2019 manifesto.
“A dramatic recent rise in the number of ‘no fault evictions’ from the private rented sector is putting additional pressure on homelessness services, so we are glad that a plan to strengthen safeguards for private renters is finally in place, allowing renters to challenge poor practice and unfair rent increases without fear of eviction.”
Cllr James Jamieson, chair of the Local Government Association, said: “Over the last decade, England has taken steps towards greater devolution, but areas outside our city regions have remained stuck in the ‘devolution slow lane’ and the UK remains one of the most centralised countries in the democratic world.
“There is an urgent need to turbo charge the speed at which we are devolving powers to local areas so we are pleased that the Government has used the Queen’s Speech to make good on its commitment to offer all of England the opportunity to benefit from a devolution deal by 2030.
“Turning levelling up from a political slogan to a reality will only be achieved if councils have the powers and funding they need to address regional inequality, tackle concentrations of deprivation and make towns and communities across England attractive places to live, work and visit.
“To deliver on levelling up ambitions and ensure councils can deliver the right types of homes in the right places with appropriate infrastructure, a local, plan-led system is integral.
“It is good to see that any new Infrastructure Levy will be set at a local level, and we want to work with government to ensure that it is a success and can deliver more affordable housing and infrastructure contributions at a local authority level than the existing systems for developer contributions.
“Empowering councils to bring vacant properties back into use is also an encouraging step. National permitted development rights, allowing conversion of offices, shops, and restaurants into houses without the need to provide any affordable homes or infrastructure funding, also need to be removed so councils can ensure the right homes are built in the right places, and deliver on local ambitions to revive and reimagine our high streets and town centres.
“As well as ensuring that existing homes are high quality, energy efficient, and safe, building new, high-quality council homes has to be a national priority.
“This needs to include urgent reform of the Right to Buy scheme to allow councils to be able to keep 100% of receipts from sales of homes and the ability to set discounts locally.
“Councils and the LGA look forward to working with parliamentarians to shape the proposed legislation as this Bill is brought forward.”
Gavin Jefferies, director of Communications and Strategy at Abri, said: “We were pleased to see that the ongoing cost-of-living and energy crisis was a big focus of the Queen’s Speech.
“It’s a really challenging time for lots of people, including our customers, and we welcome anything that helps provide the support that’s needed at this time.
“We look forward to seeing how the government’s energy strategy and its move to greater energy efficiency and independence can have a positive impact on people’s energy bills.
“The introduction of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which promises to provide local leaders with the powers they need to revitalise communities, is another welcome priority.
“Housing providers will play a crucial part in the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, creating communities where people want to live.
“We believe that through strong local partnerships and a focus on delivering empowerment activities, we can build thriving and sustainable communities with more opportunity for all.
“Closely linked to this is the bill addressing social housing reform, which will help social housing tenants hold landlords to account.
“This will have a positive impact on the quality of social housing and we welcome greater scrutiny of the service our sector provides its customers.
“Our new housing services strategy, Customers First, reflects this and re-establishes a powerful sense of local ownership and accountability for improving services to customers, homes and neighbourhoods.
“Finally, we’ll closely monitor plans to replace section 106 regulations with a build levy for local authorities. Our hope is that this money is used to build more social housing.
“If true reform of the planning system is achieved and social housebuilding is incentivised then we think this proposal could be a really positive change for our sector.”
Manningham Housing Association
Lee Bloomfield, CEO of Manningham Housing Association, said: “With the cost of living crisis really beginning to bite, I had hoped that the government would show more ambition by offering tangible support to those communities that will inevitably suffer most.
“The pledge to reform the planning system by giving residents more involvement seems designed to restrict house building rather than encourage it.
“I look forward to providing input to the legislation to improve the regulation of social housing.
“I also welcome the prospect of measures to drive local regeneration but the people of Bradford and Keighley have repeatedly missed out when additional resources for regeneration projects are allocated.
“This includes transport with the Queen’s Speech containing promises to modernise rail services but, having recently missed out on Northern Powerhouse Rail and a new station in Bradford, hopes within the communities we serve will not be high.”
In a blog post, homeless charity Shelter said: “It was a genuine thrill to hear the Prince of Wales say today that the government would ‘improve the regulation of social housing, strengthen the rights of tenants and ensure better quality safer homes’.
“A statement of intent that was, at the very least, a major change in how the government is approaching housing after decades of neglect – and all thanks to the work of so many amazing campaigners.
“Looking at the supporting document that sits behind the big speech, it is clear that the government has finally listened to the voices of social housing tenants.”
UK Green Building Council
Responding to the Queen’s Speech, UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) CEO Julie Hirigoyen said: “The Queen’s Speech acknowledged the need for cleaner, more secure, and affordable energy.
“The government should use its Energy Security Bill to throw a lifeline to millions of renters and homeowners by introducing a package of measures on minimum energy efficiency standards.
“Without government action to insulate homes, there is no end in sight to the energy bill crisis, and no prospect of meeting the UK’s climate commitments.
“Planning reform is long overdue to deliver development that is aligned with our climate commitments and homes that are protected against increasing energy costs.
“If the government is to achieve its ambition to transform the UK by spreading opportunity and prosperity, then the upcoming Bill must ensure that the English planning system is in line with the Climate Change Act and puts us on the pathway to net-zero.
“This will help deliver sustainable development that improves the quality of life for all communities across the UK.”
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Jonathan Hale, head of Government Affairs at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said: “RICS and its professionals, are supportive of the levelling up of UK regions, and are working hard to unlock jobs and opportunities by supporting our high streets and communities.
“We understand the wish to bring empty property back to life, but those opening for business on high streets will need to meet the needs of the wider community.
“Government highlighted community led levelling up and planning in the speech, but forcing landlords in such a blunt way, may not fit with this vision.
“Landlords do not want empty properties, but fit outs, planning permission, and insurance need to be considered as high streets necessarily evolve.
“We are pleased, that the Levelling Up Bill will be led by community driven planning, something we recently called for in relation to CRE, and housing, and the bill must be used to drive ambitious changes.
“However, we are disappointed that planning has been side lined – we have supported root and branch planning reforms and now look forward to seeing where government’s level of ambition for a reformed planning system is.
“We also call on government to include financial incentives and government policies that support the renovation and upgrading of commercial assets within the levelling up actions, importantly including to hit net zero ambitions.
“Well-managed commercial real estate boosts less developed areas, and promotes economic growth and social value, Building communities, backed up by locally led commercial real estate is central to achieving levelling-up.”
Image credit: Maxx-Studio/Shutterstock
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