INDUSTRY figures have urged new housing minister Kit Malthouse not to be a brief incumbent, unlike so many of his predecessors recently.
Malthouse was handed the ministerial brief yesterday as part of the Prime Minister’s emergency reshuffle, triggered by the resignation of Brexit secretary David Davis. The job he vacated was subsequently handed to Dominic Raab, who had been housing minister since January 2018.
Following the latest addition to the roll-call of short-term housing ministers, a Leeds housing chief urged “stability” so that the sector could get on with tackling the housing crisis.
“Mr Malthouse is the eighth housing minister to be appointed since 2010, with both of his immediate predecessors only staying in the post for a matter of months,” said Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes & Enterprise (pictured). “The housing association sector now desperately needs a period of stability if we are to properly assist the Government in tackling the national housing crisis.
“In his six months in the job, Dominic Raab seemed somewhat detached and arguably disinterested in working closely with us to deliver the affordable homes that so many people need.
“That was in contrast with the more constructive and positive approach adopted by the recently appointed housing secretary, James Brokenshire.
“I hope that Kit Malthouse will now follow Mr Brokenshire’s lead and indicate his willingness to be bold and commit himself to confronting the many housing challenges that we face as a nation.”
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, congratulated Malthouse on his new position, but again had misgivings about the high turnover in ministerial appointments.
“We’ve had constructive dialogue with him in his role at the Department of Work and Pensions, and it is positive that someone with an understanding of the strong links between welfare and housing has been appointed as housing minister,” Orr added. “We look forward to continuing our close work with Mr Malthouse to solve the country’s housing crisis. Housing must remain a priority for this Government and housing associations will continue to be constructive and vital partners.
“However, this is the eighth housing minister in eight years. Theresa May has made it her personal mission to fix the housing crisis and if the Prime Minister is serious about this, she now needs to make sure Mr Malthouse actually has enough time to get to grips with the real scale of the problem and make meaningful change.”
Tom Murtha, chair of North Wales Housing Association, was less than impressed with this latest shuffling of the ministerial cards, tweeting yesterday: “It is shameful that a government that claims that housing is a top priority shows in reality it isn’t. If it were a priority there would be a cabinet post for housing and the person appointed would stay in the role for more than a few months. Meanwhile the housing crisis worsens.”
The House Builders Association (HBA), part of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) also vented its frustration, with the organisation wondering if the Government “appreciated how vital consistent leadership is in solving the housing crisis”.
Richard Beresford, the NFB’s chief executive, said: “It is always frustrating to lose ministers who are not only approachable and passionate about their brief but vocal about solutions. The housing crisis can only be solved with a consistent approach. The industry remains consistent in its approach and its message and this should prove a helpful platform to solve the housing crisis. We only hope that the next minister for housing shows a similar openness to solving the housing crisis and redoubles efforts to reform planning and make the housing market more competitive.”