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On Monday 14th December, the Government published its Energy White Paper, which sets out its ambitions to become a ‘world-leading’ net zero economy. It outlines the opportunities presented by low-carbon technologies, electric vehicles and clean energy, building on the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. The Department for Work and Pensions also announced the restart scheme to give Universal Credit claimants who have been out of work for at least 12 months enhanced support to find jobs in their local area.
On Wednesday 16th December, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published plans to regenerate England’s cities with new homes. The plan sets out new measures to level up England’s cities, recover from the pandemic, and enable the delivery of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, while prioritising brownfield sites and urban areas. To further support local areas in delivering homes, and following the £20 billion investment in housing announced as part of last month’s Spending Review, the Government has also announced that in January there are plans to launch a new £100 million Brownfield Land Release fund to support brownfield development, estates regeneration, development on public sector land and self and custom-build serviced plots in coming forward. This will be open to councils across England, apart from those Mayoral Combined Authority areas that recently benefited from our £400 million brownfield fund. The Government is also encouraging councils to ensure that appropriate numbers of family homes come forward, with the right mix of home sizes, types and tenures for local communities.
On Thursday 17th December, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick MP (Con) confirmed a £51.2 billion package of funding for local services, which represents £2.2 billion increase in core spending, including access to extra £1 billion for social care and an estimated £3 billion additional support for councils to deal with COVID-19 pressures. The Government published the New Homes Bonus gross payment calculator, and details of the Lower Tier Services Grant is a new grant for 2021 to 2022, provided specifically to lower tier authorities with a one-off minimum funding floor. The Government also published its core spending power provisional local Government finance settlement 2021 to 2022 as well as key information for local authorities on the provisional local Government finance settlement 2021 to 2022. The Department for Education has published a policy paper on pupil premiums, to give schools extra funding to help improve outcomes for disadvantaged children.
On Saturday 19th December, Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP (Con) introduced a number of changes to the rules for England, which came into place at midnight. New restrictions have been introduced, with London, the South East and the East of England entering Tier 4, and changes to the Christmas rules, with Tier 4 banned from mixing and households in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 limited to mixing on Christmas Day only.
The Commons rose on 17th December, but MPs will be recalled on Monday and Tuesday if there is a Brexit trade deal over the weekend so they can pass it into law. The House of Lords also rose on 17th December until January 5th, however there are still a few relevant activities to note as detailed below.
On Monday 21st December, in the House of Lords, there will be oral questions on plans to implement recommendations in the report by the Law Commission 'Leasehold home ownership: buying your freehold or extending your lease' with Lord Truscott (Independent).
On Wednesday 23rd December, there will be a Ten-Minute Rule Motion on the regeneration of high streets with Darren Jones MP (Lab). In the House of Lords, there will be oral questions on the effectiveness of the Green Homes Grant scheme with Lord Oates (LibDem).
On Thursday 24th December, the COVID-19 committee will discuss the long-term impact on wellbeing from living online.
On Friday 25th December, there will be a second reading of the Internet Access (Children Eligible for Free School Meals) Bill with Siobhain McDonagh MP (Lab), as well as the second reading of the Local Authorities (Borrowing and Investment) Bill with Sir Christopher Chope MP (Con).
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