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Housing white paper fails to address coordinated approach to tackle shortage

Words: Laura Edgar
Coordinated approach to tackling housing crisis

There is little evidence in the government’s industrial strategy of coordination across government departments to achieve “an economy that works for all”, with the housing white paper cited as example, according to a report.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee has said the industrial strategy, published in January 2017, consists of a long list of policy interventions but “lacks the framework for future decision-making which could be the core of a long-term strategy”.

The industrial strategy included proposals that could see businesses make deals with the government to address sector-specific problems. The housing white paper was published in February 2017, with measures to deliver more affordable homes and greater support for SME builders.

The committee’s report suggests that the government is “failing to pursue” a coordinated approach to industrial strategy across Whitehall, noting that the housing white paper doesn’t “spell out how government and the construction industry could collaborate to tackle the housing challenge”.

“This demonstrates how industrial strategy does not appear to be a priority for other Whitehall departments,” says the report. The new housing white paper is a “disappointing and early illustration that Whitehall does not appear to be joined up when it comes to industrial strategy”.

The committee has recommended that the government should consider establishing a joint unit bringing together civil servants from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Treasury, Communities and Local Government and Education departments, to provide an interdepartmental team to develop and implement the industrial strategy.

Committee chair Iain Wright said the committee is concerned that with government announcements the approach is “business as usual” and “a silo-based approach in Whitehall”.

“The government must be bold, ambitious and visionary in developing their industrial strategy to ensure the sectoral and regional balancing to which it rightly aspires is achieved,” said Wright.

Early tests such as the housing white paper, he continued, “do not suggest a government which is willing to answer the tough questions required to deliver an 'economy that works for everyone’ ”.

To achieve an economy that works for everyone, Wright said the government must bring together a “much sharper focus” on horizontal policies, such as skills and innovation, while adopting an “ambitious mission approach”.

“This could tackle challenges such as decarbonising energy-intensive industries, tacking health and social care, or automating and electrifying transport infrastructure, which will create prosperity and employment for the UK and its citizens for the long run”.

The report can be found here.

Read more:

Businesses could make deals with government in new industrial strategy

Housing white paper: Government to support SMEs and renters

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