In this period, only three housing ministers – Grant Shapps, Brandon Lewis and Christoper Pincher – 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. Boris Johnson’s reign at Number 10 has been just as tumultuous with three ministers in the role.
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 four Secretaries of State: Sajid Javid, James Brokenshire and Robert Jenrick with Michael Gove taking over in September 2021.
Homes aren’t built in a day. Of all the governmental departments, housing desperately needs planning, consistency, certainty. The role has plenty of challenges to overcome and even more on the horizon. Tackling a lack of affordable housing, the building safety crisis and planning reforms are all pressing issues on the housing minister’s remit. There is also a growing need to decarbonise homes to boost UK efforts to reach carbon net-zero by 2050.
Housing policy should demonstrate the best of joined-up government thinking. Here’s how the ministers who have take on the role have fared since 2010.
Grant Shapps: May 13 2010 – September 4 2012 (27.5 months)
What did he do? Pledged to slash red tape to stimulate housebuilding. “Today I have a clear message to housebuilders large and small – we are on your side. I am determined to make it easier to build the homes this country needs.”
Where is he now? Secretary of state for transport
Houses built: 136,120
Number of rough sleepers: 1,768 in the official 2010 figures,2,181 in 2011, 2,309 in 2012.
Mark Prisk: September 4 2012 – October 7 2013 (13 months)
What did he do? Promised to ensure councils’ use of B&Bs to house homeless families does not become an “insurmountable problem”. The government announced a £10bn guarantee scheme to deliver 70,000 new homes and 140,000 new jobs.
Where is he say? Did not stand in 2019 election. Now the chairman of Saltaire Housing, a delivery partner for the UK government’s Affordable Housing Guarantee Scheme.
Houses built: 127,170
Rough sleepers: 2,414 in 2013.
Kris Hopkins: October 7 2013 – July 15 2014 (9 months)
What did he do? July 2014: “The government’s affordable housing scheme is on track to deliver 170,000 houses as promised, and the houses committed by the previous government are already delivered, demonstrating that we have delivered some 200,000 houses to date.”
Where is he now? Lost seat in the 2017 election. Now head of parliamentary engagement at Huawei
Houses built: 162,190
Rough sleepers: 2,744 in 2014.
Brandon Lewis: July 15 2014 – July 16 2016 (24 months)
What did he do? July 2014: Promised 165,000 new houses/apartments built in three years. September 2015: Broke ranks from the government to promise one million new homes by 2020, at a rate of 200,000 per year.
Where is he now? Northern Ireland secretary
Houses built: 175,470
Rough sleepers: 3,569 in 2015.
Gavin Barwell: July 16 2016 – June 14 2017 (10.5 months)
What did he do? September 2016: Said the government is considering dropping pledge for 200,000 starter homes by 2020 to focus on supporting rental sector.
Where is he now? Life peer
Houses built: 199,220
Rough sleepers: 4,134 in 2016.
Alok Sharma: June 14 2017 – January 9 2018 (6.5 months)
What did he do? Was widely criticised for his response to the Grenfell tragedy.
Where is he now? President of COP26
Rough sleepers: 4,751 in 2017.
Dominic Raab: January 9 2018 – July 9 2018 (6 months)
What did he do? April 2018: Became embroiled in a row after claiming migration pushed house prices up “something like 20 per cent” over the past 25 years. Figures were not public, and the body behind them had not existed for eight years. June 2018: “I want to see the number of new homes delivered rising year on year because that is the way we get to our target.”
Where is he now? Now justice secretary, deputy prime minister and lord chancellor
Houses built: 193,390
Kit Malthouse: July 9 2018 – July 24 2019 (12 months)
What did he do? During his time as deputy leader of Westminster Council, Malthouse said he wanted to make life “uncomfortable” for homeless people. March 2019: Admits government will struggle to meet “200,000 starter homes by 2020 pledge. As they say on Gavin and Stacey, I’m not going to lie to you.”
Where is he now? Home Office Minister of State
Homes built: 208,170
Rough sleepers: 4,677 in 2018.
Esther McVey: July 24 2019 – February 13 2020 (7 months)
What did she do? In office, McVey called for the UK to be a leader in modular housing and took part in a recent debate on the cladding scandal. She said: “What today absolutely impresses upon us is the speed at which things have to be done.” McVey was sacked the next day.
Where is she now? Backbench MP
Houses built: 243,000 in 2019.
Rough sleepers: 4,266 in 2019.
Christopher Pincher: February 13 2020 – February 8 2022 (2 years)
What did he do? Has kept a relatively low profile during the pandemic-hit tenure as the government announced an eviction ban keep people in their homes while Covid hit jobs and the economy. Has appeared from time to time to announce government iniatives, including the multi-billion-pound Affordable Housing Programme and the Community Housing Fund.
Where is he now? Since leaving the role he has been accused of misconduct and saw the whip removed. How the allegations were handled sparked a series of resignations from Conservative ministers. Currently still an MP, sitting as an independent.
Houses built: 216,000 in 2020.
Rough sleepers: 2,688 in 2020.
Stuart Andrew: February 8 2022 – July 6 2021 (4 months)
What did he do? Andrew barely had time to get his feet under the table before resigning in protest at Boris Johnson’s leadership. He announced a review into short-term tourist accommodation as well as the government’s Help to Build scheme at a time when Boris Johnson announced housing policies to boost home ownership, including an expansion to the Right to Buy scheme. In his resignation letter he said that it was “good that housing is now so high on the political agenda” and offered his “apologies to the sector who will have to get to know yet another housing minister”.
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