Building safety levy moves a step closer

Proposals for how developers would pay to fix unsafe buildings have been set out today by the government as it moves a step closer to imposing its new Building Safety Levy.

The government has now begun consulting developers and other interested parties on the plans, which will see an estimated £3 billion collected over the next 10 years.

Under the proposals drawn by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, developers of residential buildings, regardless of their height, will have to pay the levy contribution as part of the building control process.

This will mean that unless the levy is paid, a developer could not move on to the next stage of the building process, which could lead to project delays and impact future revenues.

Minister for Local Government and Building Safety Lee Rowley said:

We have been clear that developers must pay to fix building safety issues and the Building Safety Levy is an important part of making that a reality.

Today’s consultation will give industry and local authorities an opportunity to work with us going forward.

By having these plans in place, we can ensure that all leaseholders are protected, regardless of whether their developer has pledged to remediate or not.

The government’s proposals include an option to alter levy rates depending on where in the country the building is, with lower rates in areas where land and house prices are less expensive. It also suggests that local authorities will be best placed to act as the collection agents as they have the necessary systems, data, knowledge, and relationships in place with the developer sector.

In order to protect the supply of affordable homes, it is proposed they be exempt from a levy charge. This is alongside a number of community buildings, including NHS facilities, children’s homes and refuges, including those for victims of domestic abuse.

The levy will be reviewed regularly so that it can be adjusted to take account of changing circumstances, such as wider economic conditions. There are also plans to protect small and medium sized enterprises by excluding smaller projects.

The Building Safety Levy will run alongside the developer pledges which were announced earlier this year. Under the pledges, 49 of the UK’s biggest homebuilders have committed to fix life-critical fire-safety defects in buildings over 11 metres where they had a role in developing those buildings in the last 30 years. This amounts to a commitment of at least £2 billion.

The Building Safety Levy was first announced in February 2021 and plans to extend it to cover all residential buildings were confirmed in April 2022. The Building Safety Levy is one of the ways we will ensure that the burden of paying for fixing historic building safety defects does not fall on leaseholders or taxpayers.

The consultation seeks views on the delivery of the Levy, including how it will work, what the rates will be, who must pay, what sanctions and enforcement will apply, and who is responsible for collecting the levy.

The consultation will be open for ten working weeks from today (22 November) and seeks the views of all interested parties, especially developers of all sizes, building control professionals and local authorities. Their views will be taken into account before any final decisions are made next year.

Further information:

The consultation is available here.

Link: Building safety levy moves a step closer
Source: Assent Information Services

Government launches £1.5 million AI programme for reducing carbon emissions

  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy launches new innovation programme supporting the use of artificial intelligence to reduce carbon emissions
  • the AI for Decarbonisation programme forms part of the government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio
  • the programme aims to stimulate further innovation in the UK in AI, to drive growth and achieve Net Zero targets

Today (Tuesday 22 November) the government has launched a new innovation programme which will support the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions.

The AI for Decarbonisation Programme, backed by £1.5 million in funding, forms part of the government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, and comprises separate streams of grant funding to be launched in 2 initial stages.

Stream 1, worth up to £500,000, will be made available to co-fund a virtual centre of excellence on AI innovation and decarbonisation through to March 2025, while Stream 2, worth up to £1 million, will fund innovation projects which further the development of AI technologies to support decarbonisation.

Later in 2023, the government intends to make additional funding available to support priority areas in AI innovation identified by the virtual centre of excellence as being critical for achieving net-zero.

Science Minister George Freeman said:

The UK is one of the world’s most advanced AI economies, and AI technology is already having a transformative impact on our economy and society. But there is tremendous potential to do more.

The AI for Decarbonisation programme offers an exciting opportunity to leverage and develop the UK’s outstanding expertise in the field. Putting this rapidly-evolving technology into action will enable us to save energy costs for businesses and households, create high-value, skilled jobs, and kickstart millions of pounds of private investment while supporting our net zero targets.

The programme’s objective is to stimulate further innovation in the UK in the AI sector, to drive growth and achieve our net zero ambitions by encouraging collaboration in the field across the technology, energy and industrial sectors. The programme builds on ideas developed in the National AI Strategy  published last year which set out the ways in which AI is able to support the UK in meeting its decarbonisation targets.

Projects specifically encouraged to bid for funding include uses of AI which could enable a faster transition to renewable energy, decarbonise industry by improving energy productivity and fuel switching, and decrease emissions in the agricultural sector.

The AI for Decarbonisation Programme is anticipated to increase market growth in the UK, reduce the cost of energy for a more competitive UK industry, leverage private investment in AI, and increase the consideration of ethics, bias and equity in AI technologies with decarbonisation applications.

The programme opens for applications on 22 November 2022, and closes on 19 January 2022. Applications can be made through the AI for Decarbonisation funding page.

Link: Government launches £1.5 million AI programme for reducing carbon emissions
Source: Assent Information Services

PM: UK and South Africa will turbocharge growth together

The UK and South Africa will join forces to drive economic growth and turbocharge infrastructure investment, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced today [Tuesday 22nd November] at the start of President Ramaphosa’s formal State Visit.

The next phase of the UK-South Africa Infrastructure Partnership is being launched today, supporting South Africa’s economic growth through major infrastructure developments and offering increased access to UK companies to projects worth up to £5.37bn over the next three years. The UK Government will also confirm new grant-funded technical assistance to South Africa to help unlock green hydrogen opportunities and boost skills in this key sector.

As an example of the opportunities for UK businesses, Globeleq – a UK company which is majority owned by British International Investment – is today announcing they have reached legal close on six solar power projects, with construction expected to kick off in South Africa next year.

South Africa is the continent’s second largest economy and is already the UK’s biggest trading partner in Africa, with trade worth £10.7 billion annually. Unlocking export finance offers significant opportunities for British businesses to invest and trade.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is in London for a two-day state visit, hosted by His Majesty The King. After attending a state banquet for the South African delegation this evening at Buckingham Palace, the Prime Minister will welcome President Ramaphosa to Downing Street for a bilateral meeting and lunch on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

South Africa is already the UK’s biggest trading partner on the continent, and we have ambitious plans to turbocharge infrastructure investment and economic growth together.

I look forward to welcoming President Ramaphosa to London this week to discuss how we can deepen the partnership between our two great nations and capitalise on shared opportunities, from trade and tourism and security and defence.

A new education and skills partnership between the UK and the South African governments will also promote shared learning in technical and vocational education, driving youth employment.

UK funding will build the highly sought-after technical and entrepreneurial skills in the biggest growth sectors including green technology and electric vehicle manufacture, ensuring South Africa’s youth are benefitting from the green transition.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said:

The UK’s relationship with South Africa is hugely important to us. Together we are working to deliver for the British and South African people, creating jobs, enhancing trade and investment, and boosting inclusive economic growth.

This week’s State Visit, the first under His Majesty The King, is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our ties but also allows us to trigger greater growth, create even more opportunities for British and South African businesses alike, and further promote South Africa’s transition to green energy.

The South Africa Just Energy Transition Partnership, launched at COP26, also offers new opportunities to collaborate on renewable technology and green innovation. The UK and South Africa are today announcing the creation of a new Partnership on Minerals for Future Clean Energy Technologies to promote increased responsible exploration, production and processing of minerals in South and Southern Africa.

Countries in the region are among the world’s leading producers of vital minerals used in clean technology, including platinum group metals and iridium for hydrogen production and vanadium and manganese for battery storage.  This partnership will utilise the UK’s expertise as the home to leading global mining houses and financial services centre for metals to bolster sustainable and responsible production.

Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said:

Today we’re moving into a new era of our dynamic trade relationship with South Africa, with exciting collaboration on infrastructure, clean technology, and renewable energy sources.

These new opportunities will unlock trade and investment for businesses from the Eastern Cape to East Anglia and boost growth, create jobs and future-proof our economies against a changing world.

Link: PM: UK and South Africa will turbocharge growth together
Source: Assent Information Services