New housing minister Mark Prisk warned to 'hit the ground running'
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government
New Housing Minister Mark Prisk warned to "hit the ground running"
New housing minister Mark Prisk has been welcomed to the role by the sector's leading bodies but warned that he needs to "hit the ground running" in order to address the country's housing crisis.
Mr Prisk, 50, MP for Hertford and Stortford, replaces Grant Shapps who has been promoted to co-chair of the Conservative Party in today's Cabinet reshuffle.
In a personal message to Mr Prisk, Grainia Long, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: "You have joined the industry at a time which could not be more important – housing as we have seen already this week is a fundamental driver of economic growth and we hope you will ensure that housing is upfront and central to government and economic policy.
She added: “We face a housing crisis that needs urgent action and the role of the Housing Minister is crucial in addressing it. I extend my personal congratulations Minister and invite you to meet with CIH and our members soon.”
Mr Prisk has moved to DCLG from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
National Housing Federation chief executive, David Orr, said Mr Prisk's "strong economic and business experience would prove invaluable" to the role.
He said: “We welcome the appointment of Mark Prisk MP as housing minister. We are delighted that housing has rightly risen up the political agenda in recent years.
"The National Housing Federation has long argued for the vital role housing has to play in driving growth and Mark Prisk’s strong economic and business experience will prove invaluable in making that case. We look forward to working with him to get homes built and tackle the challenges in the housing market."
The Home Builders Federation (HBF), meanwhile, warned of the "acute" housing crisis facing the country and said Mr Prisk needed to "hit the ground running".
Stewart Baseley, HBF Executive Chairman, said: “We welcome Mark Prisk to the role. Whilst he has an unenviable intray, it is clear that he understands the scale of the job in front of him with his background in the sector.
“We hope he will offer some radical ideas to transform the current housing and planning systems and tackle the housing crisis, providing economic growth and jobs, and strengthening communities across the country. In his previous role he undertook some positive work to reduce regulation, a commitment his Government has also made with regards to housing and something we hope he will now deliver on.
“We developed an extremely close working relationship with Grant Shapps and look forward to doing the same with him and together tackling the issues with which we are faced.”
According to the HBF, the task facing the new minister is a daunting one:
- We are building fewer homes than at any point since the 1920s and well under half what is needed
- Five million people are on housing waiting lists; whilst First-Time Buyer numbers have plummeted
The HBF said Mr Prisk needs to find ways of addressing the main constraints on building namely:
- A severe lack of mortgage credit and development finance
- A lack of viable, developable land with planning permissions and concerns about the implementation of the National Planning Policy Framework
- A regulatory cost burden which is preventing development across the country
As a "matter of urgency", the HBF called on the new housing minister to consider:
- Maintaining funding for the effective shared equity scheme Firstbuy that has been responsible for 10000 new homes and sales
- Action to increase the supply of mortgage finance to home-buyers. NewBuy will help but more is needed
- Working with Local Authorities to ensure they are taking responsibility for planning sustainably for the future of, and creating economic growth and jobs in their areas by identifying and providing enough land for the homes their communities need
- Urgent and radical action on the Government’s commitment to cut regulatory costs.
Insurance provider NHBC said it was committed to maintaining its close and constructive working relationship with DCLG to help support good policy development.
Its executive chairman Isabel Hudson said: “NHBC has played a central role working with the Government on a number of policies, such as the Local Housing Delivery Group and Zero Carbon Homes; we look forward to continuing this relationship following the appointment of Mark Prisk as we enter another critical period for the housing sector.
“The new minister has a number of challenges across the sector. As our latest new home registrations statistics revealed, although private sector housing registrations in the UK had their best month for over a year this July, registrations in the sector are still down 10% for May to July 2012, compared to the same period last year.”
Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “There can be no underestimating the scale of the task facing the new housing minister as he takes up office.
"On a daily basis we see the toll our housing crisis is taking on families across the country, with high levels of repossessions, rising homelessness, and people cutting back on food or delaying starting a family because of the cost of housing.
"A whole generation is seeing their aspirations to home ownership fading away, stuck paying sky-high rents and living under the constant threat of eviction or further rent rises. They know that even if they work hard and save hard, that first rung on the property ladder will still remain out of reach.
“For decades housing hasn’t been given the attention or investment it deserves – while small scale policies have not been in short supply, these have never added up to more than the sum of their parts.
"The Government has the perfect opportunity in the forthcoming housing announcement to provide some really bold and creative ideas to fix this mess, and to show the millions who are struggling that it understands the difficulties they are facing.
"In doing so they can also provide a solid foundation from which the new minister can make a genuine difference to a generation left on the property scrapheap, and we look forward to working with him on this.”
Mark Henderson, Home Group chief executive, said: “During his time as shadow minister and minister Grant Shapps has helped propel housing up the mainstream political agenda. He has been very committed to the sector.
“We’ve watched with interest Mark Prisk’s work at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and welcome him to his new role in housing.
“He comes into the role at a challenging time. Demand for social housing is at a high, new starts are at a low and the funding of the sector continues to be uncertain.
“There is no single answer to the challenges facing housing. A new minister brings with it the opportunity for fresh innovative thinking. Continuing as we are is not an option.
“Housing Associations are learning to achieve more with less. Home Group would like Mr Prisk to give serious consideration to our suggestion of creating Housing Enterprise Zones.
“We also think measures like incentivising local authorities to enter into joint ventures and release land for new homes could go some way to addressing the current issues.”