UK to get its 17th housing minister in 20 years as Raab becomes new Brexit Secretary

The property sector in the UK has hit out at yet another change in Housing Minister, with Dominic Raab named as the new Brexit Secretary of State, meaning the country has now had 17 ministers in 20 years.

They point out that such frequent changes suggest that the Government does not take housing as seriously as it claims to. Indeed Raab has only been in post for six months having been appointed in January.

According to a recent survey of UK mortgage lenders, three fifths believe the housing minister merry-go-round contributes to the lack of cohesive housing policy and Peter Williams, former executive director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association is among those who have called for an independent housing body to lead policy.

Housing has become a poor relation in British politics, according to Russell Quirk, chief executive of hybrid estate agent Emoov. ‘We need consistency. We are in the midst of a housing crisis, a deficit of 100,000 new homes each year and acute unaffordability,’ he pointed out.

He is one of many who believe that housing should be a Cabinet Post in its own right. ‘How are we as an industry or indeed the civil service to take the Government seriously when they say that housing is a priority when, in fact, they play ‘Fantasy Housing Minister League’ like this with scant regard for the consequences,’ he added.

There is also concern that the Government is focusing on Brexit over other key departments. ‘The extraordinary circus of housing ministers continues. It’s vital we have continuity in the role and a reality check about the vital role Build to Rent needs to play,’ said Johnny Caddick, managing director at property development company Moda Living.

‘We need a new Minister to continue the great work Gavin Barwell did in supporting investment and in ensuring we have the necessary skilled workforce to build all the homes politicians keep promising voters,’ he added.

Paresh Raja, chief executive officer of Market Financial Solutions is also calling for consistency. ‘Raab’s successor will become the 17th Housing Minister in the past two decades, and at a time when the property market needs consistency and clarity in policy, this development could prove a hindrance to a hugely valuable sector for the UK economy,’ he said.

‘It’s vital the Government acts quickly to appoint a new Housing Minister and ensures it sticks to its strategy to help more people get on and move up the property ladder,’ he added.

It could strengthen calls for an independent housing commission to be set up. A recent review of home ownership led by Taylor Wimpey chief executive Pete Redfern proposed an independent housing commission be set up to encourage a non-partisan approach to long term housing decisions.