Thoughts on what’s to come

“The word ‘change’ is all around. Whatever the outcome on July 4th, it feels like we need a galvanising vision.”

This week, the country has looked back, remembering the D-Day landings eighty years ago and it’s impossible not to be deeply moved by the recollections of those who fought for a better future. By 1945, most people were certain that after six years of hardship and sacrifice, nothing would or should be the same again. Everyone deserved equal rights to a new safety net from cradle to grave.

The scale of post-war change shaped the UK for decades to come: the creation of the NHS, the National Insurance Act which introduced social security, the New Towns Act which kicked off an ambitious building programme, coupled with the Town and Country Planning Act which meant planning permission was required for development; the Children Act which established comprehensive childcare; the National Parks and Access to Countryside Act, which created areas of national beauty and gave the public rights of way.

No government is perfect, but the scale of post-war change shaped the UK for decades to come.

So, is 2024 another tipping point?

Whatever the outcome on July 4th, it feels like we need a galvanising vision that addresses the root causes of inequalities; that provides diverse, quality places, shaped by the people who live there; reliable access to healthcare; energy security. All whilst remaining well within under-threat planetary boundaries.

Everything is connected, which is why tinkering will no longer do. You can’t solve the housing crisis while ignoring the needs of local communities in areas of economic growth. You can’t make good progress on carbon and nature while fudging and swerving on green policies and commitments.

We need creativity to work through financial restraints, utilise expertise across industries and disciplines, and build a sense of common purpose. This has been described as ‘mission-led’ government – having the ambition to solve complex issues, and look to the long term with clear goals.

Businesses need to change too. Business as usual won’t do here either and we all need to be working towards a healthier, more equal future. There is definitely a shift to bigger picture, mission-led thinking, and it has been our privilege to provide strategic advice to, for example, the Welsh Government and Homes England, in support of a focus on positive, measurable outcomes that run right through a project.

Over the next few weeks, we will explore what a mission-led approach means for some of the key themes of greatest interest to voters in this election. What does it mean for the delivery of homes, the improvement of planning systems, the creation of new energy infrastructure?

We hope they will amount to a call for some of the changes that we urgently need – and hope – to see. The challenges are huge, but the mission is not impossible. We should all choose to accept it.

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