The Government response to the House of Lords COVID-19 Committee’s report “Towns and Cities: Local Power is the Path to Recovery” has been published. The original Towns and Cities report was published on 17 December 2021.
View the Towns and Cities: Local Power is the Path to Recovery Report
View the Government Response
The Select Committee on COVID-19 was appointed on 13 May 2021 to consider the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economic and social wellbeing of the United Kingdom.
The Select Committee's inquiry explored the impact of COVID-19 on towns and cities, and how it has changed our relationship with, and the dynamic within, those urban areas. It concentrated on the long-term impact of the pandemic on large towns and smaller cities, focussing particularly on housing and green spaces, the changing nature of employment and public transport provision.
The Select Committee report makes a number of observations about opportunities for local authorities to make a difference in towns and cities, including through arts and cultural activities, use of green spaces and provision of transport.
There are also recommendations for Government action, including:
- The UK Government should, in its Levelling Up White Paper, outline its plans for further financial and legislative devolution of powers, to enable local authority leaders to deliver regeneration policies tailored to the needs of their specific areas.
- The UK Government should issue a statement to all local authority leaders actively encouraging the use of the general power of competence and should work with the Local Government Association to issue detailed guidance notes on the operation of the general power of competence.
- The UK Government should introduce a three-year rolling local government financial settlement, at an increased level, to replace the current system of one-year settlements, to allow local authority leaders to develop, and deliver, long-term plans for their urban areas.
- The UK Government should end the competitive bidding processes for additional funds and agree with the Local Government Association to create an improved resource equalisation scheme, as a transparent method of assessing those towns and cities most in need and targeting additional central government funding at those areas.
- The UK Government should provide financial support to local authority leaders to enable the establishment of: Work hubs in towns and cities; Pop-up retail units in towns and cities and; Arts and culture provision in towns and cities.
- The UK Government should work with local authorities to develop a blended approach to housing in our towns and cities. We want to see the UK Government providing increased financial support for the conversion of commercial properties into residential properties and building homes on derelict sites in town and city centres, as well as matching investment in those neighbourhoods in the greatest need.
- The UK Government should work with local authorities to develop a blended approach to public service provision in urban areas. We want to see the UK Government providing increased financial support for the provision of public services in town and city centres, as well as matching investment in those neighbourhoods in the greatest need.
- The UK Government should work with local authorities to develop a blended approach to public transport in urban areas. Such an approach should ensure that public transport provision within town and city centres, and within neighbourhoods in the greatest need is prioritised, with central government investment to ensure that public transport provides a regular, reliable, and affordable service in these areas.
- The UK Government should provide local authorities with additional funding to improve the condition of existing urban green spaces, and create new parks in town and city centres, and those neighbourhoods in the greatest need.