Responding to today’s Queen’s Speech, Stephen Marcos Jones, CEO of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), said:
“We support the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and look forward to seeing the detail as it progresses through Parliament. As outlined in our recent report on levelling up, the imperative and opportunity can only be delivered if local government is empowered to do so. With this in mind, we are pleased to see proposals for local leaders and councils to be given the powers to revitalise town centres and deliver new housing and infrastructure. In time we hope that a more holistic and equitable approach to funding, partly through the UK Infrastructure Bank, will also be developed to support this. ACE members stand ready to lend their knowledge, skills and expertise to realise levelling up ambitions.
“With the Planning Bill not included in this year’s Queen’s Speech, it feels as if we have missed the opportunity for more fundamental reform. However, we await to see changes to the planning process expected in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to see whether modest shifts in approach can unlock opportunity. Seven months after COP26, we were also surprised to note that there was no major environmental legislation in the calendar, although progress on the Energy Bill is welcome, as will be the new funding for Net Zero projects through the UK Infrastructure Bank.
“Businesses are currently facing a challenging economic climate and we were disappointed not to see more tangible support proposed. The OBR’s forecast of a recession has been recently followed by one from the Bank of England, and it is increasingly clear that companies will be walking a tightrope in the coming months if they are to be able to seize the post-pandemic opportunities that will arise and contribute to recovery. With this in mind, we hope the Government will consider proactive, immediate and targeted moves to mitigate inflationary pressures.”