Housing

George Clarke doesn’t hold back on the ministerial merry-go-round

Not one of the Housing Ministers in charge over the last decade have managed to build the homes Britain desperately needs to end the housing crisis. Social housing activist George Clarke has had enough

George Clarke's Council House Scandal

There have been nine Housing Ministers in nine years.

The ministerial merry-go-round marks Grant Shapps, who lasted 27.5 months between 2010 and 2012, out as a relative veteran while current Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab barely lasted six months in the role in 2018.

I have heard the figure 300,000 houses a year every year since forever

It’s hardly enough time to make any progress on building the 300,000-plus homes that Britain needs to plug the gap left by successive governments, particularly the much-needed affordable social rent homes.

You can see how each Housing Minister has fared in their time in the hot seat in this week’s Big Issue magazine, available now from vendors and The Big Issue Shop.

But we also asked George Clarke, a proud social housing champion and host of Channel 4’s hard-hitting Council House Scandal, what he thought of the constant chopping and changing.

It’s fair to say that he didn’t hold back:

“I have lost count, there have been so many housing ministers over the last 20 years. It is the ministerial position that has changed more than any other.

“That is a joke, isn’t it? It is shameful.

“I have heard announcement after announcement after announcement and it is all a load of bollocks. And I don’t use that word lightly. It is an absolute load of shit. I have heard the figure 300,000 houses a year every year since forever. Tony Blair announced with John Prescott and Gordon Brown that they would build three million houses in the next 10 years.

“Well, they didn’t.

“And it has got worse. I interviewed [ex-Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary] James Brokenshire for my programme. What a waste of time that guy was. Over-media trained, weak politics.

“It’s pathetic.”

Clarke’s own petition to persuade the government to build 100,000 council houses every year for the next three decades continues to grow and has soared past 216,000 signatures at the latest count. You can add your name to the campaign here.

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