You are here: Home - News -

Brokers lament lack of stability after housing minister sacking ‒ analysis

  • 14/11/2023
  • 0
Brokers lament lack of stability after housing minister sacking ‒ analysis
The revolving door that keeps ejecting the housing minister is actively harming the sector, holding back the chances of building enough homes, brokers have argued.

Rachel Maclean was sacked as housing minister yesterday in the government’s reshuffle, after just nine months in the role. She was replaced by Lee Rowley (pictured), who was previously parliamentary under secretary of state for local government and building safety from 2022 to 2023.

Brokers bemoaned the constant changes of housing minister constantly holding back the chances of improving the sector, calling for a more long-term approach to improve supply of new homes, particularly properties aimed at first-time buyers.

Disruption and delays

Changing housing minister yet again is likely to cause disruption and delay to the new housing legislation already planned, warned Elliott Culley, director of Switch Mortgage Finance.

He added: “Hopefully leasehold reform is prioritised, but it is hard to see any real progress being made before the next election.”

Justin Moy, managing director of EHF Mortgages, agreed that Rowley needs to continue the work on leasehold reform.

He called for the minister to also “find ways to encourage private landlords to stay in the market, and influence builders to develop sites with a higher percentage of smaller properties, ideally priced for younger, first-time buyers”. 

Darryl Dhoffer, spokesman at The Mortgage Expert, said his wish list for the new housing minister was the same as for Rowley’s predecessors.

Increase the supply of affordable housing, improve the quality of housing, protect tenant rights, address homelessness – no one has stayed in the job long enough to follow any of these through.”

Focus on affordability

There needs to be a greater emphasis from the government generally on affordable housing options, argued Richard Thompson, director at Abbeydale Mortgages. Thompson pointed to the combination of rising interest rates and higher rent payments, which he said are making it even more challenging for would-be homebuyers to get onto the housing ladder.

He continued: “I feel the government should consider implementing a mortgage guarantee scheme for lenders, enabling them to offer 100 per cent mortgages. Such an initiative would not only provide a crucial lifeline for first-time buyers but also stimulate activity in the housing market.”

Graham Cox, founder of SelfEmployedMortgageHub, called for a “complete change of mindset” around housing. He argued that the country is lining the pockets of private landlords, while homelessness rises and the economy stagnates, all because of a mantra of ‘rising house prices are good.’

He added: “The remedy is not rocket science. Build social housing at massive scale, stop Right to Buy, and include house prices in the two per cent inflation target. Those three things alone would make a huge difference.”

Richard Campo, founder of Rose Capital Partners, said it was crucial for greater levels of investment into modern construction methods to build “truly affordable homes”.

He continued: “To me, this is so simple and I have no idea why we aren’t doing this. The government could offer some form of guarantee, such as they do on 95 per cent lending, or do as a joint venture with developers which would give lenders confidence that this new way of building homes is sustainable and in demand. 

“It would create jobs, create affordable homes and fix much of the housing supply issues. It seems a no-brainer.”

Campo also suggested that the removal of “onerous taxation” on buy-to-let properties was also necessary.

Stop changing ministers

However, by far the most common hope from intermediaries was simply that a housing minister is allowed to remain in post long enough to actually make a difference.

Richard Dana, co-founder of Tembo Money, said that given the need for a long-term view on housing “a new housing minister every year” is not ideal.

He pointed to the shortage of social housing as being a particular problem that needs addressing.

There is an ideal opportunity at the moment, when the housebuilders have excess capacity, to try and match the two needs together by building more social housing. That requires leadership and insight, both of which are a little in short supply at the moment,” he continued.

Rats and housing ministers

Martin Stewart, director at London Money argued that housing is now such a mess precisely because politicians have not taken it seriously enough to make it a more senior cabinet position.

“No one hangs around long enough to put the sector on solid foundations so that problems can be addressed from homelessness all the way through to billionaires buying empty houses as a currency hedge,” he continued.

The answer, according to Stewart, lies in giving an individual a full political term, with the power and budget, to make a difference to the sector.

All we want is stability

This was echoed by Riz Malik, founder of R3 Mortgages, who speculated that by the time Rowley has changed his LinkedIn profile “he will probably be gone”.

This highlights the fundamental issue with any key long term policy making decision in modern day politics. This is also the reason why the housing crisis in the UK will never be solved,” he continued.

Stephen Perkins, managing director of Yellow Brick Mortgages, agreed that what is needed is for some “longevity and consistency”.

However, he added: “With a general election next year I have very low expectations on the impact he can bring to the role.”

Simon Bridgland, director of Release Freedom, questioned how any minister stands a chance of making improvements without being given the time to do it.

“Hopefully, he will be here to see the cement dry on current housing developments and realise, ‘Oh we need more!’” 

Related Posts

There are 0 Comment(s)

You may also be interested in