Alex Morton is Policy Exchange's Senior Research Fellow for Housing and Planning.
The current planning system has utterly failed. Even after recent falls, the current system has seen house prices triple since the mid 1990s, and rents have soared with them.
At the same time as prices have gone up, housing construction has fallen back, because market forces do not really operate in housing. Analysts like the McKinsey Institute and the London School of Economics say that our creaking planning system puts us at a huge competitive disadvantage compared to our international competitors. On top of this the planning system lowers our quality of life.
Planning affects everything else in the country. The current system leads to so many bad consequences, that it’s difficult to know where to start. But amongst other things it means:
By Matthew Barrett
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A report (pdf) from the TaxPayers' Alliance released today reveals that 1,328 Midlands council staff have been suspended for a total of 419 years since 2009, costing taxpayers £8.2 million.
If these figures were replicated nationally, in line with the spending power of Councils in the Midlands, the TPA estimates that since April 2009 7,852 staff would have been suspended for a total of 594,816 days, or almost 2,500 working years.
The suspended members of staff have been on full pay, and the average suspension lasts 76 days.
The worst-offending councils include:
Six councils refused to provide any information, twelve did not provide salary details, one did not respond to the TPA's request, and two did not record requested details of any suspended staff.
Author: Joint report between The TaxPayers' Alliance and The Drivers' Alliance
Publication date: 25 November 2009
This report argues that many people perceive parking enforcement as little more than a money making scheme for councils. It states that a total of £328million of parking fines were received in the year 2008-2009 which is a 16% decrease on the previous year. The decrease is attributed to drivers being more cautious during the recession however in the view of the authors the amount being received is still far too high and the only beneficiaries are the wardens and their bosses.
Authors: Localis and KPMG
Publication date: 9 November 2009
This joint report from Localis and KPMG contains several recommendations for reforming local government in response to expected budgetary constraints from the centre. The report forecasts that councils will need to reduce their expenditure by 20% on average by 2011. In addition, the report calls for local government to increase its productivity and according to the authors services like libraries and leisure centres should be transferred to private providers in order to make savings.
Author: Philip Blond
Publication date: October 2009
The report acknowledges that public services in Britain are not performing as they should with a real terms funding increase of 55% over the last ten years but a fall in productivity of 3.4% over the same period. The report calls for radical action with social enterprises in the guise of "civic companies" being allowed to replace the State as providers of these services. The civic companies will be managed and owned by front-line workers and will provide an alternative to both the public sector and the conventional private sector.
Authors: Susana Forjan, Tom Shakespeare and James Morris (Editor). Foreword by Lord Heseltine.
Publication date: 7 October 2009
This report which was published during the Conservative Party Conference contains several recommendations for advancing a localist agenda. These include the abolition of Regional Development Agencies with their power devolved to local government and re-localising business rates in order to give councils more financial autonomy.
Authors: The Centre for Social Justice Family Law Review chaired by David Hodson
Publication date: July 2009
This report seeks to address issues surrounding family break-up and the consequential damage to society. It calls for a reform of family law to encourage the institution of marriage and fairer access to children in the event of divorce. The report calls for Government to recognise marriage in the taxation system and stresses that two parent families represent the best environment for children to be brought up.