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Housing minister sacking goes down like lead balloon

The property industry is once again disappointed by the sacking of a housing minister, this time in Rachel Maclean.

Maclean held the role for 279 days, while she has been replaced with Lee Rowley, who previously held the position in Liz Truss’s government.

She confirmed she was sacked, and didn’t resign.

Simon Gerrard, managing director of Martyn Gerrard Estate Agents, said: “It comes as a great disappointment, but frankly little surprise, that the housing brief has yet again changed hands within this government.

“There will be a collective groan of ‘here we go again’ from those of us working in the property sector, and indeed anybody with a vested interest in the housing market. We’re now onto our 16th housing minister since the government came into power 13 years ago.

“How can any long-term progress be made on reforming our planning system, solving the housing crisis, and ensuring our children have homes to live in when we have such a shockingly high turn-over of ministers tasked with tackling these issues?

“I’m beginning to question the point of having a ministry supposedly dedicated to building new homes, when in reality, providing people with places to live clearly couldn’t be further down the list of priorities for this government.

“The department is frankly a joke, and it is regrettable that the punchline is that this country remains in desperate need of new homes. I hope that at some point we will actually see a housing minister remain in post for the length of time it takes for a planning application to build a new home to get through our planning system. For now, it seems, I remain hoping in vain.”

The sacking came a day before evidence sessions for the Renters (Reform Bill) were due to start.

The role being a non-cabinet one has contributed to there being such a revolving door around the position, as we’ve had 16 housing ministers in 13 years.

Nick Sanderson, chief executive of Audley Group, said: “The appointment of David Cameron to the cabinet might garner the headlines, but it shouldn’t detract from revolving door that is the UK’s Housing Minister.

“Rachel Maclean being relieved of the role means we are due the 16th Housing Minister since 2010, and the seventh in just two years. The housing market needs reform, and that’s difficult to achieve without any kind of stability.

“Lack of in-depth knowledge about the housing market leads to knee jerk decisions to increase housing supply and focus on first time buyers, rather than holistic possibilities that increase supply and flow within the market.

“Let’s hope the next appointment is the last for a while so the focus can turn from personalities to real progress.”

Marc Vlessing, chief executive, Pocket Living, said: “At a time of market stagnation, with housing delivery numbers falling off a cliff and with SME housebuilders facing a very bleak future, we have the instability of yet another housing minister appointed to the brief.

“What we really need is political stability and resolute focus on tackling the housing crisis and getting new homes built, not a presentational government reshuffle.

“With only a year to go before the likely general election there is hardly any time for a new minister to learn the brief, build the relationships, and make a meaningful difference.

“This is yet another deeply unhelpful distraction from the delivery of urgent planning reform this country needs to build more homes.”