The Pulse Week

Credit: Edited Jake Berry image, left, from UK Parliament via CC BY 3.0,, Andy Burnham image via GMCA


The Pulse: Energy ratings, mortgage misery, is the North dense?

‘We will use it and we will build on it’

At the Housing 2024 expo in Manchester, Andy Burnham said train stations should be transferred to the GMCA, and land used for new car-less homes. Burnham made it sound simple, “you just transfer that asset to us, and we will then use it, build on it, and some of the proceeds will come back into improving the asset, the station.” Burnham claimed there was “loads of land” that government needed to be prepared to sell for less than its perceived value.

This grass will never be green

For Chris Skidmore, the Conservative ex-energy minister, Tory time is up. Speaking to The Guardian, he claimed that the party had walked away from net zero, expressing disappointment in the divisive campaigning on green policy. Skidmore joined the massed ranks of quitting Tories, including Bolton MP Mark Logan, who switched to Labour saying “the time has come to bring back optimism into British public life.” Labour’s net zero pledges would “require a huge sacrifice” and a path that “is realistic, that is affordable and is achievable,” according to Javier Cavada of Mitsubishi Power. Ineos boss and Manchester United FC co-owner, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, called the Labour targets “absurd”.

A day to remember

Wistful eyes were cast back to June 2014 when then Chancellor George Osborne delivered a speech that introduced the Northern Powerhouse to UK politics. Among its successes have been the numerous devolution deals offered to Northern city regions. However, Henri Murison, chief executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, claims there is still a “mammoth challenge” to face. Bemoaning Sunak’s “less than enthusiastic attitude” to the North, he echoed the view of former Tory party chairman Jake Berry, who told the Express that his party was “giving up” on the North, instead pursuing it’s age-old “Southern comfort strategy,” which would “disregard the realignment of politics” over the last 10 years.

More is mortgage

The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association has urged the incoming government to focus its attention on removing barriers to home ownership. There has been a 3.1 million shortfall in first-time buyers since the 2008 financial crisis. The number of first-time buyers has fallen from 405,000 in 2021 to 287,000 in 2023. The IMLA’s fear is the subsequent increase in demand in the rented sector, pushing up rents and putting more pressure on the already buckling social rented sector.

The North isn’t dense

Sunak told the Evening Standard of his desire to raise inner-city density in order to give more people in London access to housing. The Centre for Cities think tank believes density to be the crux in the UK’s economic geography. Every other country in the G7 has greater densities in the centres of their big cities than we do. Second-tier cities in the UK are outliers in the G7 because of their low-density urban form and poor transport connections. Portsmouth, Leicester and Southampton are just some of the cities with higher population densities than towns and cities in the North.

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