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Challenging the nimbys

Written by Adam Shaw, associate partner
Edited by Kevin Pringle, partner
12 October 2020

Good morning,

The current UK government isn’t one that shies away from controversy and, so far, Conservative backbenchers have generally offered their support, albeit sometimes lukewarm.
 
However, there has been significant unrest on the Tory benches at proposals for a new central algorithm at the heart of planning reforms, as the government bids to hit building targets of 337,000 homes a year by circumventing local planning.
 
Among the main critics is former prime minister Theresa May, who argues that the proposed reforms are “ill-conceived” and “mechanistic”. Other Conservative MPs have said that they risk “destroying suburbia” and “creating the slums of the future”.
 
While Boris Johnson has promised to turn ‘Generation Rent’ into ‘Generation Buy’ by making mortgages more affordable through long-term fixed rate deals on a five per cent deposit, the root of the problem is housing supply.
 
The algorithm may not be perfect, but it is at least an attempt to address the problem that we are not building enough homes of all tenures, and haven’t been for years. The slow pace of the planning process is part of the issue. Anya Martin from campaign group PricedOut sets this out succinctly in CityAM.
 
There are legitimate reasons to object to major planning decisions – disruption, pressure on local services, etc – but nimbysim cannot be allowed to prevail.
 
According to research from Savills, house prices are expected to jump by more than 20% by 2024.
 
We need more homes – and they have to go somewhere.

News

A new three-tier system for local Covid-19 restrictions in England is due to be revealed today. Merseyside is set to face the tightest restrictions – expected to include the closure of home hospitality venues and only one household or “bubble” able to meet indoors. However, Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said on Sunday evening that “no deal has been agreed”.
 
US infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci has criticised the Trump campaign for using comments he made out of context. A 30-second campaign advert was released last week and covers President Trump’s recovery from Covid-19 and his administration’s efforts in tacking the pandemic. It shows Fauci saying: “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more”. However, the quote was taken from an interview in March and Fauci was referring to health and medical officials.
 
Emmanuel Macron and other EU leaders will insist on tough enforcement of rules for any UK trade deal at this week’s European Council summit. The gathering is the last opportunity for EU leaders to shape the endgame of negotiations, with fishing rights, level playing field arrangements, and governance of the future relationship remaining the sticking points. (£)

Business and economy

British Airways chief executive and chairman Alex Cruz is stepping down from his role and will be succeeded by Sean Doyle, the Aer Lingus boss. Cruz moves to the position of non-executive chairman and Doyle will be replaced by Donal Moriarty, current chief corporate affairs officer, on an interim basis. The changes take place with immediate effect and were made by Luis Gallego, the new chief executive of International Airlines Group, BA and Aer Lingus’s parent company.
 
The UK economy may have grown as much as 17% during the third quarter, according to the EY Item Club. Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, highlighted strong consumer spending as lockdown was lifted and pick up in the housing sector as drivers of the better-than-expected growth. However, he also warned of higher unemployment and sluggish growth moving forward.
 
The chancellor’s job support schemes will do little to prevent a rise in redundancies in the run up to Christmas, according to think tanks the Institute of Public Policy Research and Centre for Economics and Business Research. These warnings follow research from law firm Fladgate, showing that 35% of SMEs fear they will not be operating beyond a year.

Columns of note

In The TimesClare Foges expresses concerns that scepticism about a Covid-19 vaccine may be higher than thought among the UK population. She dismisses the hardcore anti-vaxxers but highlights the fears of a group she dubs “vax-sceptics”, who fear that the vaccine has been developed too quickly. Foges calls on policymakers and health officials not to underestimate this “quiet resistance”. (£)
 
Writing in The AtlanticMichael Schuman underlines the importance of Taiwan in the tense US-China relationship, with fears that the risk of war over the island is rising. Although President Trump has taken a strong line on China and publicly supported Taiwan, he has also failed to uphold the US-led global order. Meanwhile, Taiwan is moving in the “wrong” direction in the view of Beijing – all at a time when China is becoming increasingly assertive. This, Schuman says, makes Taiwan the “ultimate test for Washington in Asia”.

Cartoon source: Telegraph

Markets

The week ahead

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual meetings begin today. Tomorrow, the IMF is set to release its World Economic Outlook, which will include revised growth projections for 2021.
 
The European Council summit starts on Thursday, when the main focus will be the future relationship between the EU and UK. Boris Johnson has previously said that the summit is the deadline for a breakthrough in negotiations, however, Michel Barnier, the lead EU negotiator, has said 31 October is the “realistic deadline” for an agreement to be reached.
 
In the US, President Trump has insisted he will return to the campaign trail this week, claiming to have fully recovered from his bout of Covid-19 and to no longer be infectious. The president is due to visit Florida, Pennsylvania and Iowa, all of which are key swing states. However, some experts have argued that Trump could still be contagious.
 
In related news, the US Senate will hold hearings on Amy Coney Barrett – Trump’s Supreme Court nominee – this week. In her opening statement, Barrett will invoke the memory of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, whom she clerked for, saying that his “judicial philosophy was straightforward: A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were”. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has previously said he wants to see Barrett confirmed by 26 October – one week before the election.
 
Even further afield, New Zealand will go to the polls on Saturday after the election was postponed from its original 19 September date. Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party is expected to be comfortably returned to power.
 
In corporate news, Unilever shareholders vote today on whether to unify the company’s structure into a London-based entity. More than 99% of Dutch investors have already voted in favour of the move.
 
Tomorrow, Apple is due to unveil the latest iPhone handset, and JPMorgan and Citigroup kick off the third-quarter earnings season for US banks.
 
Barratt Developments, Just Eat, Hays, Domino’s Pizza Group, Dunelm, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Johnson & Johnson and JD Wetherspoon are also among the organisations scheduled to report to the market.

What’s happening today?

Interims
E-therapeutics

AGMs
Cambium Global

EGMs
Cairn Homes

Annual reports
Thorpe (F.w)

Int economic announcements
(07:00) Wholesale Price Index

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The use of the term “bucks” as a slang reference to US dollars is thought to stem from the time when deer skins were used as an informal currency.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions: education (including topical questions)
 
Consideration of Lords amendments: Agriculture Bill

House of Lords 

Introductions: Lord Sharpe or Epsom and Lord Lancaster of Kimbolton
 
Oral questions
 
Following the advice by the World Health Organisation that people over 60 should be treated as vulnerable to COVID-19, support of people in this age group who must work because they do not have access to a pension – Baroness Bryan of Partick
Support to enhance, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans rights internationally – Lord Black of Brentwood
Implementation of proposals set out in the paper ‘UK Approach to Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict’ – Baroness Anelay of St Johns
Protecting third party sellers from the dominance of Amazon and ensuring that Amazon does not benefit from passing on the costs of the Digital Sales Tax to sellers – Lord Leigh of Hurley
 
Private notice question
 
Following the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, what assessment the Government made of its impact on BAME communities in the UK – Lord Woolley of Woodford

Scottish Parliament 

No business scheduled.

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