2 Viscount Hailsham debates involving the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

Local Planning Authorities: Staffing

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Monday 12th February 2024

(5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, we think that the staffing in local planning authorities needs to increase. We have provided several routes for that to happen, including the planning skills delivery fund, which is worth £29 million. In December, we announced the first 180 local authorities to get funding from that, and there will be further allocations this spring. We have also increased planning fees by 25%, and up to 30% for major applications, and made provision for that to be indexed in future years. The pipeline is not just about funding; it is also about skills, which is why we have put in place support for master’s programmes and an improved pipeline for getting people into planning and helping them upskill in the specific skills the noble Lord mentioned once they are there.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, I welcome what my noble friend has just said. Does she accept—I am sure she does—that shortages in planning departments and changes in planning skills are causing considerable delays, and that that is unfair to claimants who are seeking planning consent and can often cause considerable expense to them?

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, we recognise this as a source of delays. In addition to the planning skills delivery fund, we have put in place the “planning super-squad”, backed by £13 million of funding. It deploys teams of specialists into planning authorities to accelerate the delivery of homes and developments.

Elections: Voter ID

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Tuesday 13th June 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, several years ago I was concerned in a case involving allegedly forged postal votes. In the course of that time it became clear to me that many heads of family in some communities were providing postal votes that were, in my eyes, highly questionable. I very much hope that the Government are still keeping the matter under review.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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I assure my noble friend that voter identification is just one of a series of measures within the Elections Act that are aimed at tackling voter fraud and ensuring the future security of our electoral system. Further changes will be delivered later this year to introduce sensible safeguards against the abuse of absent voting, clamping down on the practice of postal vote harvesting and tightening the rules around postal and proxy votes.