Alok Sharma was named the new housing minister this week, becoming the 14th person to take on the brief since 2000. Sharma succeeded Gavin Barwell who lost his seat in the general election and has since taken up a role as Prime Minister Theresa May’s chief of staff.
Peter Williams, executive director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lender’s Association (IMLA), noted that the chronic shortage of housebuilding and the need for a “joined-up policy” across all housing tenures were recurring challenges that have faced every new housing minister and administration for years.
He continued: “With talk turning to the need for cross-party agreement and a common approach to negotiating Brexit, it would surely make sense to adopt a similar consensual, non-partisan approach to determining housing policy to put the UK property market on a more stable footing for the long term.”
Paul Broadhead, head of mortgage policy at the Building Societies Association (BSA) said that he looked forward to working with Sharma over the coming Parliament, and highlighted that the appointment of a new housing minister on this occasion could not be avoided.
He added: “In March 2015 the BSA published a housing manifesto which called both for the housing minister to be a cabinet level position and for the delivery of a cross party 15-year plan for housing. We still see this as the most productive way forward.”
Robert Sinclair, chief executive of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), said the permanent team at the Department for Communities and Local Government must be as frustrated as the rest of the industry at having to continually induct new ministers.
He continued: “AMI remains concerned that the Housing White Paper missed a trick or two, but is realistic that Brexit and political instability will deflect focus from the housing agenda.
“Accordingly, the idea of trying to get cross party consensus on actions on housing might be a great place to start. As well as getting the industry in a room to chart the plan, all parties’ housing specialists should be there.”