The housing industry needs stable political leadership

There’s a new Housing Minister today. Kit Malthouse replaces Dominic Raab, who has been promoted to Brexit Secretary.

The response from the housing sector to this news was as unified as it was clear – ‘You're joking, not another one!’

Malthouse is the eighth Housing Minister since 2010, and the fourth since Theresa May became Prime Minister. This historic churn has been a major impediment to implementing a consistent and coherent housing strategy.

Raab spent only six months as Housing Minister – among the shortest tenures of any housing minister since 1951 – and failed to make an impact. Let’s hope Malthouse can do better.

Malthouse was most recently Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance at the Department for Work and Pensions. Before entering Parliament in 2015 he was London Deputy Mayor for Policing and later Deputy Mayor for Business & Enterprise.

Outside of his previous Ministerial brief, his views on housing can most clearly be seen in a June 2015 Parliamentary debate. He said he supported rural exemptions for Right to Buy, welcomed neighbourhood plans and said planning inspectorates often slow the development process. His comments are hardly striking in vigour and this won’t fill the industry with much hope.

He’ll now play a key role trying to meet the Government’s target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. March saw an 8% fall in home starts on a year earlier, so he’s got a mountain to climb.

The key challenge for this Government has been the conflicting tasks of delivering Brexit while tackling key national issues, such as the housing crisis. The Government simply hasn’t got enough resources to do both at the same time.

Only time will tell if Malthouse can help deliver the homes we need. The housing sector is ready to engage but there needs to be political stability and Housing Ministers willing to stick around.

This post was written by Kashif Taher, Account Executive at MPC.

*image taken from Kit Malthouse's website