Roll up, roll up! Boris Johnson’s latest cabinet reshuffle means we have yet another rider on the never-ending housing ministry merry-go-round. There have now been 10 ministers based at Westminster tasked with tackling the housing crisis in the last 10 years.
In this period, only two housing ministers – Grant Shapps and Brandon Lewis – have lasted more than two years in the post. During Theresa May’s three years as prime minister, there were four housing ministers – hardly a strong and stable foundation for
long-term solutions to the housing crisis.
Since housing was added to the remit of the renamed Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in January 2018 – meaning, at last, that the person responsible for housing policy was a member of the cabinet – there have already been three Secretaries of State: Sajid Javid, James Brokenshire and Robert Jenrick.
And Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher is the latest in an even longer and undistinguished line of housing ministers since David Cameron became prime minister in 2010. In the first meeting of, as Boris Johnson called it, the “Cabinet of delivery,” the Prime Minister promised to focus on “our basic work”, including tackling homelessness, so Pincher may already be feeling the pinch.
Last year, 27,000 people worldwide earned an income selling street papers, making a total of £23.4 million.
Homes aren’t built in a day. Of all the governmental departments, housing desperately needs planning, consistency, certainty. Yet with changes in personnel come changes in priority, and further delays in tackling the housing crisis inevitably follow.
Housing policy should demonstrate the best of joined-up government thinking. It isn’t just an issue of shelter, it’s one of mental and physical health, and social care that prevents society collapsing.