HomeResourcesPolicyCultural Policy Readout / 11 August 2020

Government release Planning White Paper and launches consultation

The government  released its Planning White Paper, it outlines plans to overhaul the country’s ‘outdated’ planning system that will deliver high-quality, sustainable homes that communities need. It will be the most significant reforms to housing policy in decades, the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick announced. The reforms aim to protect valued green spaces and the Green Belt, with the reforms focusing on quicker and increased building on brownfield land. 

The government claims the reforms will also mean:

  • local communities will be consulted from the very beginning of the planning process, this will be achieved by utilising the latest technology through online maps making the system more accessible;
  • homes will be built quicker by ensuring local by ensuring local housing plans are developed and agreed in 30 months, down from the current seven years;
  • the planning process will be overhauled and replaced with a clearer, rules based system;
  • a simpler national levy to replace the current system of developer contributions;
  • a fast-track system for beautiful building and establishing local design guidance for developers to build and preserve beautiful communities; and
  • an ambition that new ‘zero carbon ready’ homes delivered under the new system will not require any future alterations. 

Under the new plans, the government plans on abolishing section 106, a legal instrument that gives councils powers to require developers to build infrastructure or affordable homes to get planning permission. Section 106 has been a major contributor of affordable homes since its introduction in 1990. The Savills Housing Sector Survey 2019 revealed that the law was behind 47 per cent of total new build affordable homes built in the past three years. Removing this instrument may increase the amount of homes built but at the cost of crucial social and affordable housing.

The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) releases report into heritage and inclusive growth

The RSA, in partnership with the British Council, has released a report titled “Heritage for Inclusive Growth” arguing that heritage for inclusive growth can shape locally-led responses to the challenges of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter (BLM). The report argues that heritage and economic policymaking have usually taken place separately, and that this is a big missed opportunity. Heritage for inclusive growth addresses social, economic, and environmental inequalities as well as recognising the cultural, symbolic and emotion factors that inform our individual collective identities and experiences. The report argues that as we rebuild post-pandemic there is a need for a more holistic approach, rebuilding a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive future, and that heritage has a central role in building back more inclusive local economies, communities and identities. 

Barely a quarter of charities’ COVID-19 fund has been allocated

Barely a quarter of the £200m emergency COVID-19 fund for small charities in England has been allocated, and even less paid out, despite Rishi Sunak promising money would be distributed “at pace” when he announced the fund in April. A Guardian article reveals that applications for grants from the fund are being assessed not only by the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF), which was publicly tasked with the role, but are also being privately vetted by consultants from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has been paid £1.4 million for the work.  More than 10,000 charities have applied for grants from the coronavirus community support fund (CCSF) for England, many of them struggling to survive the crisis. Voluntary sector leaders have grown increasingly alarmed at the delay of allocating cash and have reacted angrily to the PwC vetting. 

Oliver Dowden questioned on progress of creative industries EU deal

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has been pressed to provide a detailed update on the government’s efforts to secure an agreement with the EU that supports the UK’s creative industries. The House of Lords EU Services Sub-Committee has written a letter to Dowden, which asks a series of questions on the progress the government has made in trade negotiations thus far. The committee bears the role of scrutinising EU policies on the creative industries and the implications of Brexit for the sector. The letter asks the following: 

  • What arrangements are the government seeking to negotiate to mitigate potential future barriers for the creative industries?
  • How is the government engaging with the creative industries sectors to ensure that their priorities and concerns are reflected in the future relationship negotiations?
  • What arrangements are being sought for the mobility of individuals working in the creative industries?
  • What consideration is the government giving to UK participation in EU funding schemes for the creative industries such as Creative Europe?
  • Will the government replace EU funding for the creative sectors, including film and broadcasting?

Whitehouse will monitor for the response and report when released. 

Tracy Brabin MP writes opinion piece for The Stage on the future of theatre

Tracy Brabin MP is an actor and a member of the Women and Equalities Committee. In her opinion piece, Brabin criticises Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s announcement that the next update on theatres opening without social distancing would not be until November. The ‘not before’ opening date that is needed by theatres across the country has now been replaced with a ‘no clarity before’ date and, in practice, ended any hopes of a pantomime or Christmas show that theatres were still holding onto. Brabin states that to be economically sustainable, many theatres need the ticket sales and bar receipts of the successful Christmas shows, that it is the backbone that supports their work for the remainder of the year. The loss of panto after months of closed doors may be the final straw for many theatres. Brabin argues that the government needs to be transparent in its decision-making, working closely with the sector as a whole, not just the major players. 

Covid Update

Coronavirus and the Government’s emergency measures  

The government’s test and trace system is getting worse and the latest figures for NHS Test and Trace show that overall contacts reached fell from 51% to 46% in a week, the Mirror reveals. The decrease comes just days after a Lancet study concluded that the track and track figure needs to be at 68% by the time kids go back to school next month to avoid a second wave in the winter. Experts advised the government to use local health protection teams to do the contact tracing, but instead the government set up a central programme staffed cheaply by outsourcing firms. Boris Johnson had previously boasted that the underperforming COVID-19 contact-tracing system is “world-beating”, despite data showing it has gotten worse. Labour leader Keir Starmer said, “we don’t need a world-beating track and trace system, we need an effective one and we haven’t got it”

Whitehouse Consultancy

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