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We are currently updating our website. Reports published before April 2014 are not available on the website at present. However we can send them by email on request, just email us on Please bear with us and sorry for any inconvenience.

Housing and planning: What makes the difference? A Smith Institute survey and discussion paper on the relationship between councils and house builders

By Andrew Heywood

Published July 2014. Price £9.99

This discussion paper and survey is the latest in a series of Smith Institute reports on housing and growth. Our focus is on what can be done to boost housing supply, provide more affordable homes and create better places. This paper makes an important contribution to that debate, not least in highlighting the evolving relationships between councils and developers. As the report makes clear, getting that relationship right is critical to addressing the nation’s housing crisis. There is historical data available on planning applications and the performance of local planning authorities (LPAs), as well as plenty of technical guidance issued by the Planning Advisory Service and others. However, there is little academic research on the planning process and its outcomes, and even less on best practice and “what works”. This review and survey of councils and developers is intended to help address that information gap and provide some new insights into how individual LPAs and developers shape local housing markets. The paper does not claim to be an authoritative guide to the rights and wrongs of the council/developer relationship, but hopefully does capture the experience and opinions of those involved.

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Housing associations and the NHS: new thinking, new partnerships

By Denise Chevin

Published July 2014. Price £9.99

The treatment and care of more people in their own communities and the provision of more support to allow them to stay in their own homes or in specially designed accommodation is vital if our society is to cope with an ageing population and the growing number of people with multiple long-term conditions. Furthermore, given the increase in demand and the consequential rise in healthcare costs, it is essential to secure efficiency savings and productivity improvements wherever possible. Much greater integration of health and housing is widely seen as one way of meeting these challenges, yet progress has been painfully slow and often unnecessarily bureaucratic. Although in theory there is everything to be gained from the health and housing worlds working closer together, all too often they operate in silos and are disconnected and detached from each other. This report, which captures the views of a range of healthcare and housing professionals and experts, explains why that is so and asks what can be done to remove the barriers to collaboration. That discussion is then followed by perspectives on what works and how new partnerships are reaping the benefits of better integration. In particular, the report breaks new ground by highlighting some excellent pioneering schemes and different types of innovation. 

The report provides a snapshot of current thinking around some elements of the agenda, including using surplus NHS land to improve clinical outcomes. The report aims to stimulate a debate across both disciplines and help shape the policy response.

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Making global connections: the potential of the UK’s regional airports

Louise Congdon, Michael Ward, Steve Brittan, Nigel Schofield, Stuart Patrick, Mark Povall, Jim French, Dougal Ainsley, David Mundy, Jon Riley, John Godfrey, and James Brass. Edited by Paul Hackett.

Published July 2014. Price £9.99

This collection of essays by airline insiders, airport operators, aviation experts and leading businesses, warns that the decline of regional airports will damage local economies and undermine the UK’s competitiveness. This report follows on from work the Institute has undertaken on regional economic development and local economies, including research on transport links and how London connects with the rest of the country. An important component of this is regional airports and regional connectivity, in particular with London’s airports.

As the report documents the number of domestic routes to London (especially Heathrow) has fallen dramatically since 1990. Many passengers from the regions no longer have the choice of flying via Heathrow because domestic flights have been squeezed out. This is largely a consequence of capacity constraints which have increased the commercial trade-offs between long haul and domestic flights. Large parts of the UK now have no connection to the UK’s main hub airports which provide access to important worldwide markets. The authors explore different options for reversing this trend, including increasing capacity, better use of regulation and a long-term strategy for regional air travel.

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NHS surplus land for supported housing: why now and what are the possible cost savings?

A Smith Institute research paper

July 2014

This research paper forms part of an ongoing programme of work examining the relationship between housing and health. The programme aims to explore how good housing and housing related services for older people and vulnerable adults can help prevent illness and promote independent, healthy living; how new partnership working can improve a neighbourhood’s capacity to care and help de-medicalise services; and how housing associations can help deliver better services and long-term cost savings for healthcare providers. This paper looks specifically at how using surplus NHS land to build supported housing can help meet demand and reduce the costs of care. It makes the case for thinking differently about cost savings in the NHS, notably in regard to alternative provision of supported housing through innovative partnerships between housing associations and NHS trusts. In particular, the paper aims to quantify possible future savings that can be made based on existing land disposal programmes. The evidence suggests that even by disposing of small parcels of surplus land significant savings can be realised over the long-term.

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All change – delivering future city transport

Smith Institute and PwC
Published July 2014

This joint publication with PwC explores the views of and vision for the future of those on the frontline of urban transport. In particular, the report tries to understand how that future is being shaped and managed in response to: changing customer expectations and demand; governance and the devolution agenda; funding and financing in a foreseeable future of continuing austerity; delivering new infrastructure to tighter expectations on time and reduced cost; and service delivery in an environment of constant change. This publication was been informed by a series of regional roundtable discussions with transport planners and officers, decision-makers, transport service providers, academics, local business, trade bodies and funders. It also takes a steer from a survey of councillors held in Spring 2014.

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The growth of the private rented sector: What do local authorities think?

A Smith Institute assessment of councillors and officers views on the role of the private rented sector in their area
Published June 2014
The private rented sector has been the only tenure to grow in the last decade. Yet despite its resurgence after decades of decline and then stagnation the PRS is still viewed by some as primarily
not a tenure of choice. However, there has been a growing recognition that with rising housing demand, undersupply of new housing and problems accessing mortgages the PRS is not only likely to stay but continue expanding. Whether such growth will be driven, as it has in the past, by small landlords or by intuitional investors and larger landlords is still unclear.
Nevertheless, what is clear, and as the report demonstrates, councillors and local government officials have serious concerns about the quality of the PRS housing stock and management, especially the homes for those on low incomes. As some officers note in the interviews this perception can often taint views on PRS landlords and dampen the enthusiasm amongst elected members for encouraging the PRS to grow in their area.
This assessment of views from councillors and officers responsible for housing sets out to explore some of the key issues for the private rented sector in their area. The report covers a range of concerns issues and captures the views of both councillors and officers on the growth and future growth of the PRS; how it is supported and regulated; the quality and management of the PRS; actions they would like central government to take (including additional resources and freedoms for local authorities); and how investment in the PRS might change.

Funding Housing and Local Growth: how a British Investment Bank can help

By Dr Nicholas Falk


Published May 2014


How are we to double our rate of house building without fundamentally changing the delivery model? This pamphlet shows how by setting up a Municipal Investment Corporation (MIC), linked to the proposed British Investment Bank (BIB), appropriate sites and private investment can be mobilised in ways that will not only boost small businesses but also help cut energy and transport costs and pollution. This would achieve what people in all political parties have long argued - a system that looks toward the future, as well as takes account of externalities or wider considerations rather than simply profit and loss. Most people do not want growth at any price but smarter growth that leaves a richer legacy for future generations by linking new housing with jobs and infrastructure.


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Setting a fair pay standard: The government as a living wage employer

A research paper by the Smith Institute

Published May 2014

According to David Cameron, the living wage is an idea “whose time has come”. Yet despite his backing central government departments have yet to become living wage employers. If the living wage was really a priority for central government then it is not unreasonable to ask why is it not itself a living wage employer? If government aims to promote the case for extending coverage should it not be leading by example? As the recent Buckle review on low pay has noted: “Central government should also learn from the experiments by local authorities to use the power of procurement to encourage more employers in the private sector to pay a Living Wage.”

This research paper aims to show how much (or indeed, how little in the scheme of government spending) it would cost to pay all low paid workers in Whitehall (including those employed indirectly through public procurement) the living wage. By setting out the cost of scaling up living wage coverage the paper hopes to add to the increasing body of evidence about the living wage. It also adds to the debate about using living wages as a social policy instrument to tackle low pay. Introducing living wages clauses, for example, when contracting-out services could be a critical plank in a future government’s policies to reverse the trend of in-work poverty.

The evidence is clear – the headline cost of paying all 31,413 Whitehall staff in the UK the living wage would be £18.3 million pa (including a contribution from the contractor). Even at a time of fiscal austerity this seems a small price for HM Treasury and a significant gain for the cleaners and other low paid staff who work for government departments.

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Making local economies matter: a review if policy lessons from the Regional Development Agencies and Local Enterprise Partnerships

By John Healey MP with foreword from Ed Balls and Andrew Adonis
Published May 2014
This major new report by John Healey MP and Les Newby recommends a radical and accelerated devolution of powers to LEPs to deal with the widening economic divide. The report reviews in detail the policy lessons from the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and concludes that more jobs, growth and wealth generated locally are a vital part of a balanced economy.
The report argues for a fresh commitment to stronger support for England’s local economies and that active policies to promote economic development at local and regional level are essential. It shows that RDA achievements compare well against the LEPs that replaced them, and reveals that from 2000 to 2010 the poorer English regions were able to achieve almost the same rate of GVA growth as the prosperous regions but since 2010 early data show the gap in growth rates is five times greater. 
However, the report concludes that going back to square one will not succeed and that rather than sweeping away the current structures it recommends drawing on the experience of both RDAs and LEPs to make LEPs fit for the future. Based on policy lessons from the last Labour Government’s experience with RDAs and echoing key recommendations from Lord Heseltine’s 2012 Growth Review, the report calls for fewer, stronger, business-led LEPs – with extra powers, larger independent funds and a common sense approach to the areas they cover. 
To make sure that local businesses and communities work well together, the report proposes that there should be joint local government sign-off on the LEP’s economic strategy to unlock substantial single pot of funds.  And to guarantee clear accountability in Westminster, a single Government department should have responsibility for LEPs.
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