Frequent housing minister changes 'damaging delivery of new homes'
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government
Home Group chief: Stop the housing minister 'merry-go-round'
The chief executive of one of the UK's largest social landlords says the frequent changing of housing minister is "damaging the delivery of new homes".
Home Group chief executive Mark Henderson welcomed the prime minister's decision to reunite housing with planning by giving Brandon Lewis MP responsibility for both portfolios in yesterday's reshuffle, but questioned the need for another new face.
Mr Henderson said: “While we praise the prime minister for bringing the housing and planning portfolios together, this is the third minister in three years to be taking on responsibility for housing. A longer term approach needs to be taken to drive through the changes needed to deliver new homes at scale.
However, Mr Henderson praised Cameron's decision to bring planning and housing back together: “Splitting the housing and planning briefs in 2009 was a fundamental error which did nothing to support development.
"Reuniting the two will bring demand and supply under one roof and should make it much easier to drive development towards the levels the UK needs to sustain if it is to provide affordable homes for all."
The CEO added: “Home Group is looking to Brandon Lewis to pave the way for housing zones to be delivered across the UK and his new combined role is exceptionally well placed to deliver this.
"While housing development across local authority boundaries does exist in pockets, it is despite the system and not because of it. We are looking on the minister to make this much simpler to achieve. It needs to become the norm rather than the exception.
“Home Group is also looking for the government to get on board with more flexible approaches to providing truly affordable homes for all.
"The minister will no doubt be shocked to learn that across 199 local authority areas more than half of residents cannot afford to pay an affordable rent, equivalent to 80% of market rent for properties.
"Home Group’s plans to pilot a new flex model, which allows mixed tenure development delivering genuinely affordable rent to all based on a fixed return, is an example of the innovation the sector needs to embrace in the future.”
Meanwhile, the fate of now ex-housing minister, Kris Hopkins, remains unknown other than the fact he remains as a minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Rumours are rife that Hopkins has been shunted to the local government brief, but DCLG has so far been unwilling to confirm what has become of him.
Hopkins replaced Mark Prisk only 10 months ago, who had himself held the position for little over a year after replacing the coalition's first housing minister, Grant Shapps.
Should it be confirmed that Lewis has replaced Hopkins, it'll mean that four different MPs have held the housing minister role in four years.