Cabinet reshuffle: a step forward for housing policy?

This week was an interesting week in politics and perhaps even more so with a nod to the property industry. In the Cabinet reshuffle, Secretary of State Sajid Javid retained his position but notably in a rebranded department named the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government - with some now referring to it as the catchy “MoHoCoLoGo”.

For some, this will seem like a reflection of the importance of the housing agenda at Number 10. The PM recently stated that it was her ‘personal mission’ to fix the housing crisis and used one of her first media appearances of 2018 to announce that 16,000 first-time buyers have saved money since stamp duty changes were introduced in the Chancellor’s latest budget.

Others might see this change as merely symbolic; housing was already part of Javid’s brief in the role he took originally in 2016. He piloted last year’s housing white paper, which called for a sharply increased rate of housebuilding. By having housing officially in his profile, it could simply be a way for Javid to continue with housing plans that have been announced but not yet carried out.

This is not necessarily the case for Alok Sharma, as the housing minister has been replaced by Esher’s MP Dominic Raab. Raab will be the 7th housing minister since 2010 and the 16th in 20 years since the role was created. One of the 2010 intake, Raab served 5 years on David Cameron’s backbenches before being given two minor roles in the Ministry of Justice following the 2015 election. It will be interesting to see what his role will bring to the table considering he has been regularly quoted as saying that every effort should be made to avoid building on the green belt.

That said, Javid used the media attention to the department this week to launch a new national housing agency, Homes England, saying himself in the Times yesterday that this change shows that building the houses we need is at the forefront of the Government’s agenda.

It is important to note that two former Housing Ministers, Gavin Barwell and Brandon Lewis, hold the position of Chief of Staff at Number 10 and Conservative Party Chairman respectively, which we hope hints that housing is now - more than ever - a top priority for this Government.

This summary was written by Edie Bond, Account Manager at MPC.