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The "Poisoned Chalice" of Housing Minister

10/07/18
Posted by: Christopher Ruddick

Yesterday, 9th July 2018 was “another day”, or should that be “yet another day”, of Brexit trials and tribulations.

The long and short of it was David Davis, Boris Johnson and some more junior staff deciding that the direction of the Government deal with the EU was not one they could “believe in” following the productive discussions on a compromise agreement at Chequers only on Friday.

Obviously, this left a few positions vacant, Brexit Secretary and Secretary for Foreign and Commenwealth Affairs. As it so happens our incumbent Housing Secretary, Dominic Raab was selected to fill the Brexit Secretary position, as one of only a handful leave campaigners left in the PM’s cabinet.

The questions that now hang in the air, of this, I admit, slightly more junior role is:

  • What did Dominic Raab actually do in the role as Housing Minister in comparison with our initial assessment only 6 months ago?
  • What is the impact on the residential housing sector?
  • Is the role of Housing Minister a “poisoned chalice”?
  • The New Housing Minister…

So first off, what did Dominic Raab actually achieve in his role as housing minister?

Well if it was a few word statement, bluntly, very little.

This is what many probably expected in light of it being:

  • A fairly junior position
  • But more so, his lack of general input prior to becoming Housing Minister only 6 months ago.

He did achieve some things, however in most part anything positive was overshadowed by more negative elements of Housing or more “personal” issues.

For example, him being questioned by the Chancellor about available funding not being spent fully by Councils, and him acting more to push them to spend it.

Additionally, there were even more personal questions over his suitability to be overseeing housing or being, reportedly, part of a group on Facebook calling for workhouses to be returned and privatisation of the NHS.

Secondly, the impact on the Residential Housing Sector

TDM has highlighted a number of times as well as other news articles that housing is a long-term issue, requiring long term commitments and policies to ensure that the housing crisis is reduced.

So where is the issue of a Housing Minister and other Government reshuffles with different people in new roles. Well bluntly, continuity, more so when the issues of housing are long term problems requiring solutions that last a long time.

In the past 6 months we have seen Dominic’s immediate senior, Sajid Javid promoted to Home Secretary and now Dominic being taken into another role.

This just therefore adds to the issues of the Residential Housing Sector which needs to continue building homes at a greater rate than ever before. If policy, people and positions were more continuous then the issues would provide greater flow.

So, the ultimate question, is the role of Housing Minister a poisoned chalice?

Well the record is not exactly positive as we approach our 18th Housing Minister in two decades.

The problem is the “churn” of people is increasing, turning the role into one more akin to a revolving office door that hopefully does not hit people upon exit.

  • Third person since Grenfell
  • Fifth since 2015
  • Eighth since 2010

So, without further or do…the new housing minister (probably to be replaced by Christmas). Kit Malthouse, MP.

Previously he was at the DWP with a large focus on Universal Credit.

Additionally, he has expressed a number of views on housing previously including the need to increase building of new homes to more significant levels than previously seen.

So, hopefully just maybe the Government can keep someone, who has some interest in housing for some time. Although the record of housing minister does not seem a positive one, but we can express hope.