Kit Malthouse has been named as the government’s latest housing minister after Dominic Raab, who spent just six months in the role, was appointed Brexit secretary following David Davis’ resignation.
Many property professionals, including private landlords, are growing increasingly frustrated with the merry-go-round of housing ministers, with Malthouse, the MP for north-west Hampshire who was previously minister for family support, housing and child maintenance, becoming the 16th MP to hold this role in 18 years.
Raab’s predecessor, Alok Sharma, also held the housing ministerial post for just six months, which is clearly not enough time to fix the fix the broken housing market, especially as the prime minister has identified it as a key priority of her government.
Alexandra Morris, managing director of MakeUrMove, said: “It is hugely disappointing that the housing brief is once again the poor relation. Just months after James Brokenshire was piloted in as secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government after Sajid Javid left for the loftier heights of the Home Office, housing is once again trumped, this time by Brexit.
“We’re staring down the barrel of a very real housing crisis. There is a major deficit in the amount of housing supply, both for buyers and in the social and private rental markets. This lack of supply has caused massive unaffordability across the board, from first-time buyers struggling to get a deposit, to sky-high rents in towns and cities across the UK.”
The government has made lots of changes to the private rental sector, including the loss of mortgage tax relief for landlords, the impending tenant fees ban and the proposed introduction of three-year minimum tenancies, to name but a few, but Morris believes that there is a “real lack of joined up thinking” with regards to these changes, which, in her opinion, “resemble sticking plasters rather than well thought out strategies”.
The fact is that the turnover of housing ministers far outstrips the rate at which the average tenant moves home, making it harder for the government to address the key challenges facing the UK property market.
She added: “Ultimately tenants are likely to be the losers from government mismanagement that could be in a large part down to lack of consistency in the leadership.
“We are at a real tipping point. The government needs to make housing a priority, and this starts with appointing an expert on housing with a firm commitment to the role. Someone who can dedicate the time and energy required, over a sustained period of time, to rehabilitate the housing sector, rather than someone who simply sees the position as a step on the political ladder.”
With the resignation of David Davis, Theresa May has been dealt a significant blow in her attempts to create a workable, agreeable plan for Brexit, and yet it is not just the PM who has been affected – the UK’s property sector will also feel the impact of Davis’ decision, according to Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions.
Raja commented: “News that housing minister Dominic Raab is to now become Brexit Secretary means yet another MP takes hold of the reins as the government attempts to address the housing crisis – Mr Raab’s successor will become the 18th 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.”