CLG_200708_PN55

Shortages of planners could delay major housebuilding programmes

Publication of Report: Planning Matters€”labour shortages

and skill gaps

There is a significant risk that that major Government targets for house-building and regeneration will be missed because the local government planning system is unable to manage the volume or variety of tasks required between now and 2020.

Wider economic well-being and delivery of the Government's environmental priorities could well be hindered simply because the system cannot cope, the Communities and Local Government Select Committee has found.

In a report published today, 24 July 2008, the Committee says two linked and chronic problems need to be urgently addressed.

The Committee heard that the drastic shortage of planning officers was likely to affect nearly half of all local authority posts by 2012. Even among planners within the system there was a significant and growing skills gap. And despite these problems being recognised for more than a decade, little has been done to rectify them.

Chair of the Committee Dr Phyllis Starkey said: "When we began this inquiry we intended to look at the skills shortage in modern planning departments but we quickly discovered the problem went further and that there was a shortage of planners themselves.

"What is perhaps most surprising, and frustrating, is the fact that these shortages have been in evidence for well over a decade but despite numerous reviews nothing has been done.

"This must change if we are to get communities which live up to the new environmental and house building needs of the 21st century."

The Committee calls for:

€ The Government to raise the general status of planning within local government.

€ The Government to produce long-term assessments of the number of people employed in planning and other key sustainable communities professions so that it can anticipate skills shortages likely to arise.

€ More to be done to promote planning as a career, such as its promotion in schools or in advertising campaigns and a recruitment drive targeted at universities offering accredited qualifications in planning.

€ A more flexible attitude to the ages at which planners can be considered for promotion to more senior posts.

€ More conversion courses for mid-life professionals who may wish to switch careers to planning, on the model used in teaching and the legal profession.

NOTE FOR EDITORS:

1. More information about the Committee's inquiry, and copies of its Report, can be found at www.parliament.clgcom

2. Committee Membership is as follows: Dr Phyllis Starkey MP (Chair, Lab), Sir Paul Beresford MP (Con), Mr Clive Betts MP (Lab), John Cummings MP (Lab), Jim Dobbin MP (Lab/Co-op), Andrew George (Lib Dem), Mr Greg Hands MP (Con), Anne Main MP (Con), Mr Bill Olner MP (Lab), Dr John Pugh MP (Lib Dem), Emily Thornberry MP (Lab).

Specific Committee Information: [email protected] 020 7219 1353 or 020 7219 4972

Media Information: Laura Kibby, 020 7219 0718

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tv

Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on www.parliament.uk