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Raab in, Sharma out – as housing minister revolving door spins again


Alok Sharma has been replaced as housing minister by Dominic Raab after spending less than seven months in the role

As part of the prime minister’s cabinet reshuffle, Sharma, appointed as housing and planning minister in June, has moved to become employment minister at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Raab, a vocal supporter of Brexit, moves from the Ministry of Justice to become the seventh housing minister since 2010, but does not appear to have planning included in his title.

In a tweet, Raab said: ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed working at MoJ on court reform, my thanks to the team there … and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the housing brief, vital to building the new homes we need.’

But Noble Francis, economics director of the Construction Products Association, criticised the quick turnover of housing ministers.

In the last 20 years, he said, the average tenure of the housing minister has been just 16 months.

In a tweet, he said: ‘For all the talk of government’s focusing on and/or prioritising housing, the ministerial position is a clearly a stepping [stone] with little chance for, or incentive for, any long-term planning/policies. Hence, quick temporary fixes like Help to Buy that end up getting extended…’

Before becoming an MP, Raab worked as a solicitor and as a civil servant in the Foreign Office.

From 2006 to 2010 he worked in parliament as chief of staff to shadow home secretary David Davis and shadow secretary of state for justice Dominic Grieve.

In the past, he has voted in favour of extending Right to Buy to housing association tenants, a policy that has been kicked into the long grass by the current government, without officially being dropped.

A tweet from the National Housing Federation welcomed the appointment but called on the prime minister to ‘give him enough time to do the job properly. Housing desperately needs some continuity. We have a broken housing market to fix.’

housing minister terms

housing minister terms

Source: Construction Products Association


Félicie Krikler, director at Assael Architecture

Appointing a new housing minister is a step in the wrong direction for this Government. The industry needs political and economic certainty and stability at this crucial time to make progress on the housing front and bring forward the policies laid out in last year’s Housing White Paper.

‘The industry needs political and economic certainty’

Understanding and addressing the issues plaguing the market requires time and effort, as does engaging the wider industry. I hope that Dominic Raab can quickly contribute to the political push required towards unlocking the housing market.

Mark Farmer, author of a government-commissioned review into the construction industry

A new year and a new housing minister. At a time when the housing crisis continues to be a political hot potato, strong ministerial capability and maintaining continuity will be extremely important factors. The housing brief is incredibly complex and any new minister needs to pick up the intricacies of the challenges very quickly, as well as immediately engaging the wider industry.

Sajid Javid’s continued role as secretary of state with overarching responsibility for housing will help ensure the links to last year’s Housing White Paper commitments remains. However, it is critical that Raab gets up to speed quickly with a series of interconnected construction and housing sector challenges, and that through the secretary of state, he leverages the new Cabinet-level profile that housing has now assumed.

Grant Lipton, co-founder at Great Marlborough Estates

Progress on housing needs to be upheld. In recent months, the Conservative government has taken positive steps to addressing the housing crisis. However, the time-costly process of switching housing ministers threatens this momentum.

’The time-costly process of switching housing ministers threatens momentum’

The expansion of Sajid Javid’s remit is a positive move, and I hope that Dominic Raab will be able to quickly get on with the task at hand.

Barry Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders

Once again we have a new housing minister, which doesn’t really help build the continuity and greater certainty that the sector needs. However, Dominic Raab is an able and influential Conservative MP who we hope will bring a new energy and focus to the brief.

We welcome him to the role and look forward to working with him. We hope that his focus will be on continuing to develop and implement a range of good sound policies which have already been set out by government in the Housing White Paper and other statements. And we hope that he will be given longer to take housing policy forward than too many recent housing ministers.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Please, no more Ministers! Politicians just make the problems and solutions harder to achieve, and Brexit with all it’s ramifications are making things worse.

    Stamp Duty changes, Help to Buy and the lack of change to the planning system are all distorting the market solutions.

    Government needs to let the public and the construction industry solve the problem, both for now, and the future. For instance, houses are still being built with no chance of enlargement to accommodate growing families and changing formats. So short sighted. Look at the flexiblilty of 19th Century Housing. It’s a shame they didn't have concrete foundations!

    No industry is perfect, as the remuneration of various underperforming CEOs has already shown this year. So tighten the Nuts and bolts, and let us get on with it?

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  • Chris Roche

    The housing crisis predates Brexit, is bigger than Brexit, and will be around long after the shit has finally hit the Brexit fan, and here we are with another lightweight ministerial appointment, apparently lacking any experience of his new brief, and with the prospect of being replaced before he knows his architrave from his u-bend. The only signal this sends is the current Tory government are not in the least concerned about the homeless, the over-crowded, the squeezed middle, or future generations.

    Chris Roche / Founder 11.04 Architects.

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