Michael Gove’s first Conservative party conference speech, as the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, was to put it mildly, positively vague. Head of a department which is on its fourth secretary of state and several name changes since 2016, Gove managed to repeat the golden mantra “levelling up” several times, but there was no substance to anything that shows the government know where they are going or how.
Housing references to Margaret Thatcher’s policy of home ownership, changing the face of high streets, urban regeneration on brownfield sites, the speech was sprinkled with these and have “faith with the victims of Grenfell” which tell us absolutely nothing of how things will move forward. One could cynically say, it is almost as if they do not know themselves.
The “Levelling Up” white paper is expected by the end of the year, but with winter looming and showing to be a rough season ahead with new tax rises, benefit cuts, energy price rises, and problems with the processing and distribution of everything from petrol to food, most people were dismayed that the entire conference party had no precise strategies or any major policy announcements.
There was no mention of building safety at all, just a line “…. making everyone’s home safer and greener….” which does nothing to help homeowners, hit by the incredible costs of insurance premiums and repairs to the exterior of buildings which have similar aluminium composite cladding as the Grenfell Tower. There have been rumours that the government could underwrite the insurance for residents whose properties are considered to be “at risk,” but that will not help in the long term, where the remedial action will cost homeowners tens of thousands of pounds each.
So basically, we have no more idea of what is going on, than when the conference started.