Johnson is set to resign later today. Credit: Ben Shread / Cabinet Office / Open Government Licence

Industry reacts as Govt chaos leaves levelling up agenda rudderless

As the Prime Minister succumbs to the pressure of a blizzard of resignations and pleas from his own cabinet to resign, the future of the government’s flagship policy is more unclear than ever.

Scroll down to read the views of property professionals on a tumultuous few days 

Battling to cling on to power yesterday, Boris Johnson sacked Michael Gove, the man chosen to spearhead the levelling up agenda.

The sacking came just 10 months after Johnson gave Gove the levelling up brief, an appointment that was largely welcomed across the property industry.

Greg Clark, who replaced Eric Pickles as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in 2015, has been appointed to replace Gove.

Yesterday also saw Stuart Andrew step down from his role as housing minister. He is one of more than 50 members of the government who have tendered their resignations in the last couple of days and leaves the housing industry awaiting the appointment of a sixth minister in four years.

Despite mounting pressure, Johnson had been in defiant mood yesterday evening, claiming he would not resign. However, following further resignations this morning including Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis, the Prime Minister is preparing to stand down, according to reports.

He will resign as Conservative leader but remain as Prime Minister until autumn when a new leader is selected.

Michael Gove’s Gove was appointed to lead drive the levelling up agenda last September. Credit: via Social

What the last few days of chaos mean for the future of the levelling up is unclear. Place North West spoke to leading industry figures in the North West to get their views on levelling up, Gove’s sacking and Johnson’s impending resignation.

Industry reaction

Becca Heron, strategic director of growth at Manchester City Council

“Disruption and uncertainty do not help anybody [but] Manchester has been good at responding to changing government agendas over the years.”

Simon Bedford, partner at Deloitte

“We have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes to make sense of levelling up and get some deals in place to support some really strong projects across the North West. Gove has been encouraging and supportive. Now, yet again, we have another period of uncertainty. At a time when we need some stability it’s very frustrating. We can’t afford to lose any momentum given the multiple challenges we face across the region so we will have to crack on somehow.”

Kevin Whitmore, director at BCEG

“The events of the last two days are clearly damaging for the government’s levelling-up agenda, at least in the short term. We’ve already seen a significant planning decision by the department delayed, which demonstrates the real impact that drama in Westminster can have on the North West economy.

“I struggle to see how much of the detail left out of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill can now come forward quickly, especially when only one minister remains in the department this morning. More uncertainty and delay is the opposite of what many of us were hoping for this summer.”

Chris Cheap, managing director of UK regions at Avison Young

“The general feeling is that Michael Gove ‘got it’ and brought some much-needed heft to the levelling up agenda. On this basis his sacking and the fact that there is barely anyone left in the department to actually do anything is an untimely and unwelcome spanner in the works.

“This said, the turmoil in Westminster does not change the brilliant opportunities in the North or the strength of relationships across our city regions.”

Paul Smith, managing director of Strategic Land Group

“Michael Gove has a reputation for getting things done in government, and his short time at DLUHC has been no different. He took over at a time when planning reform had become toxic for the government, yet managed to shift the debate so deftly that the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is being welcomed by opponents of the original proposals in the planning white paper – despite it delivering essentially the same changes.

“Whether or not you agree with the contents of the bill, at least it promised to bring the debate to a close. The expectation of imminent planning reform over the last two and half years has been a crucial factor in the planning system grinding to a halt as – entirely understandably – local authorities have delayed their local plans until they knew what the new system would require them to do. Gove’s departure means that paralysis looks set to continue, which will only serve to make the housing supply crisis worse.”

Rob Loughenbury, director of strategy at Onward Homes

“The most immediate impact will be that the Levelling Up Bill slows to a stop. Any immediate ministerial appointments will be about stabilising the Government rather than progressing legislation. When the crisis passes, whoever ends up in the hot seat may want to make their own mark on how planning and development fit into Levelling Up.

“The phrase Levelling Up has a political sell-by date but the political importance of reducing regional inequality will continue to shape the policy agenda. But real progress on Levelling Up is only likely on the other side of an election, when there will be more space for policy to shift towards a long-term realignment of investment, rather than tactical use of pots of money in swing constituencies.”

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Levelling Up was an election slogan based on a whimsical idea that George Osborne found attractive, this along with Brexit was something the redwall voters latched onto, and once elected Johnson had to try and address but he can`t satisfy all these areas with job re-locations or infrastructure improvements, in addition they reigned back on HS2 and NPR.

By Anonymous

*more rudderless!

By LA boy

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