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The Levelling Up Commission Inquiry Session: Housing and Homelessness

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Next week, Curia’s Levelling Up commission is holding its third inquiry session based on housing and homelessness. Chaired by the former Shadow Minister for Social Care and Mental Health and Former Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Paula Sherriff, the Housing and Homelessness Inquiry will take place over a two-hour sitting. The panels will be divided across three sessions.

Alongside the collation and analysis of relevant data, case study submissions, and regional sprints, four inquiry sessions will be held, spanning the four themes of the report. These sessions will bring together leaders from local, regional and national government, together with service providers, service users and more to discuss the issues at hand, but more importantly, the solutions.

Housing and Homelessness: session 1

The first session of the housing and homelessness inquiry session is titled ‘Transition to Green Energy and Existing Challenges’. Based on the findings of the Committee on Climate Change report on the future of UK housing in 2019, UK housing is considered not ‘fit for future’, with lags and shortcomings in meeting targets laid out to tackle climate change.

The building of new homes and retrofitting in existing homes falls short of set standards. Given the longstanding focus of the National Planning Policy Framework on increasing use and supply of green energy, the Commission needs to understand how this can be achieved and better implemented through devolution of power and in turn its impact on wellbeing and reduction in inequality among different population groups. The direct impact of poorly insulated homes is felt not just in poor accessibility to safe housing and growing urban poverty but also in its impact on of health, education, wellbeing and welfare.

In light of this, the panel will look at the role and significance of local authorities to meet these energy standards for housing, in line with UK’s energy efficiency targets and will explore the housing quality as a determinant of socio-economic inequalities in the UK  The first panel will attempt to answer questions such as ‘What are some of the practical measures we can employ to incorporate better design and building for Net Zero into planning, ensuring that the future of house building reflects environmental standards?’, ‘How can we better understand local planning in a way that feeds into community led planning?’. ‘What impact can good-quality housing have on individual and societal wellbeing?’.

 Broadening our scope for answers, the panel will also look into the social and economic impact of present shortfalls in meeting environmental regulations – with rising energy prices, imbalanced service delivery across local authorities, and consequently widening inequalities in access to sustainable housing.

Panelists include Richard Miller, Associate Director, Connecting Places Catapult and James Dyson, Senior Researcher, E3G.

The Levelling Up Commission

The Levelling Up Commission is considering how the valuable aims of the levelling up agenda can be achieved from the perspective of local and regional government, as well as service providers across all four areas of public policy detailed below. All too often, levelling up is being done ‘to and for’ communities, rather than in partnership. The Commission intends to ensure this is led locally.

To engage with each issue in-depth, a conceptual understanding of the framework at hand is warranted. As such, the Commission defines levelling up as:

“The process of extending opportunities, improving wellbeing and reducing inequalities to empower citizens across the UK, through reducing disparity in resources and access to services. It involves concerted effort to bridge the gap between different regions and communities, with the ultimate goal of creating a more equitable and prosperous society.”

In particular, the Commission will consider how improved public service and infrastructural provisions can help to drive down regional inequalities across England. Through a series of inquiry sessions, written submissions, regional sprints and quantitative data analysis, the Commission will set out a series of recommendations, and an accompanying implementation plan to consider how regional inequalities can be reduced from the perspective of public service design and provision in four key areas:

  • Health and social care
  • Education, skills and training
  • Housing and homelessness
  • Criminal justice and rehabilitation

The Commissioners of the Levelling Up Commission include:

  • Hilary Spencer (Chief Executive of the Ambition Institute and former Director of the Government Equalities Office)
  • Jeffrey Matsu (Chief Economist at CIPFA)
  • Neil Carmichael (Former Chair of the Education Select Committee)
  • Janet Budd (Chief Executive of the NHS Transformation Unit, NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit)
  • George Coxon (Director and Owner of Classic Care Homes)
  • Lara Newman (Chief Executive of LocatED)
  • Anita Dockley (Research Director at the Howard League for Penal Reform)
  • Lord Denis Stevenson (Crossbench per and founder of MQ: Transforming Mental Health)

Sign up to join the inquiry session here:

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Watch our most recent inquiry session on education skills and training here:

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