We Have a New Minister for Housing

Added on February 6th 2018

Theresa May’s last reshuffle wasn’t so much a reshuffle as a slight rearrangement. Nearly all major ministers stayed put, but there was one new appointment that caused a stir – Dominic Raab became Housing Minister, replacing Alok Sharma, who is now Minister for Employment.

Who is Dominic Raab?

Raab has been a vocal Brexit campaigner; he’s also been Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Civil Liberties and Minister of State for Courts and Justice. In 2010 he was elected as MP for Esher and Walton and comes to his new role without much experience of housing.

Housing gets a Cabinet slot

Housing has only just been elevated to the Cabinet table; some think this is overdue, given the importance of housing to the electorate. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government is Sajid Javid and May added “Housing” to his role to demonstrate how seriously her government intends to take the issue.

Javid, who will work closely with Raab, has much more experience in housing, having lead many consultations and worked on policy in the sector.

New hope?

This move could signal May’s determination to sort out the UK’s problematic housing market, with the issue being taken as seriously as health, education and defence.

First on Raab and Javid’s to-do list must surely be increasing the stock of affordable housing to first-time buyers, as well as leasehold reform. Chancellor Philip Hammond promised to build 300,000 new homes each year until the mid-2020s, so now we’ll see if this can come to fruition or not.

What does the housing sector think?

Raab is something of a controversial figure – he’s a prominent Brexiter and a legal expert – but there have been 16 Housing Ministers since 1997, so many think he’ll be gone soon. Others would like to see him stay long enough to actually get something done.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said it was looking forward to working with Raab on housing supply, private rentals and planning reform.

No matter how long Raab lasts in his new role, however, the fact that housing now has a position at the Cabinet table can only be a good thing for this neglected sector.

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