In the media this week: Onward’s work featured in several media outlets’ coverage of last week’s local elections and their aftermath.

Will Tanner also wrote for The Times Red Box this morning on how the infrastructure levy and neighbourhood share will be key to delivering on levelling up goals.

Imperial College London News has posted a summary of our joint event Behaviour Change and the Transition to Net-Zero.

On Tuesday 17th May, Deputy Director Adam Hawksbee will be speaking at the Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum about how to power up the UK’s regional economies. Find out more information here.

Upcoming event: Homes for Ukraine
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On May 19th, we will be hosting our event ‘Homes for Ukraine,’ where we will be assessing the Government scheme and discussing ways we are helping refugees already in the country. On the panel for this event are Minister for Refugees Lord Harrington, Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food Victoria Prentis MP and Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Vadym Prystaiko.

Head to our website here for more information about the event and registration.

Upcoming event: A Remote Chance?
EVENT GRAPHICS 20 10 21 3 2 - Onward Newsletter, 10/05/2022

On June 6th, join us for an event with Zoom on the future of work and the long-term economic and social impact of hybrid working in a post-pandemic world. Speaking at this event are Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business Paul Scully MP, Bloomberg’s UK Economy Reporter Lizzy Burden and Zoom’s Director of Government Relations for the UK & Ireland, Charlotte Holloway.

Head to our website here for more information.

Director’s Note

With the dust not yet settled on the local election results, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will today set out the Government’s agenda for the next year at the State Opening of Parliament.

Will Tanner

This is a critical moment for the Government. We are now well over the halfway point in this Parliament, the pandemic  has sidelined the domestic agenda and recent scandals have dented the Conservatives’ popularity. It may be the last real chance to introduce substantive legislation before an election.

Today ministers need to show that they have a meaningful plan to deliver on the promises that they made to the British people in 2019. There are three areas where the Government needs to be bold, and use their Commons majority to good effect. These are: action to cut the cost of living, reforms to level up growth and opportunity everywhere and digital and data reform to unlock data-driven growth.

The rising cost of living is clearly the biggest question facing the Government and the most pressing concern for voters. Many of the levers sit outside Government’s control and short-term actions, such as tax cuts or temporary reliefs, will be announced at fiscal events rather than the Queen’s Speech. But we should expect to see medium-term action today, including an Energy Bill to pave the way for greater use of hydrogen, offshore wind, solar and nuclear power, and reforms to the planning system, including new design codes and compulsory purchase powers, to unlock new housing which should, in turn, reduce housing costs in the medium term.

Alongside, the Government needs to make good on its promise to level up. The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, announced today, is a major milestone in this regard. It will put into statute the 12 “levelling up missions” announced in the White Paper, and set out the framework by which ministers will report on progress. It will also abolish Section 21 “no fault” evictions and mandate higher standards in the private and socially rented sectors, to give everyone the foundation of a secure home. The introduction of a new Infrastructure Levy on development, replacing Section 106 and CIL, promises to fund GP surgeries, schools and parish and town councils, in line with Onward’s recommendations. There will also be novel action to revive Britain’s high streets, in the form of compulsory rent auctions for long-term vacant shops.

And finally, the Government is introducing far-reaching reforms to the UK’s digital economy to unlock much greater innovation. Far more attention has been focused on the Online Safety Bill than the Data Bill, but the latter may prove more important. It promises to introduce robust standards for the interoperability and sharing of data, putting users rather than platforms in control. The National Data Strategy on which it was based was explicitly pro-innovation, seeking to position the UK as a world leader in data regulation at a time when the US and EU are diverging rapidly.

There will be much else besides, including on human rights, Brexit freedoms and national security. But at a time when voters are demanding delivery, it is legislation in these areas that should receive the most attention.

Will Tanner, Director of Onward

Policy Bites

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has voted to increase the base interest rate from 0.75% to 1%, making this the highest cost of borrowing since 2009. Link

The Government has announced plans to revive local high streets by making it compulsory for vacant commercial properties to be let out for businesses, shared community spaces, and housing. Link

The Government has unveiled its plans for a schools bill, including measures to promote multi-academy trusts, improve attendance, and bestow greater powers to Ofsted, aiding efforts to meet the Levelling Up agenda’s education targets. Link

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