Politics

'Yet more chaos': 15th housing minister axed since 2010 in cabinet reshuffle

The housing minister merry-go-round continues as Rishi Sunak sacks Rachel Maclean after nine months in the role

Rachel Maclean, social rent

Housing minister Rachel Maclean. Image: House of Commons official portrait

Rachel Maclean has become the 15th housing minister to be sacked since 2010 as part of Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle, with the Conservatives reappointing Lee Rowley to the role

Redditch MP Maclean confirmed she was asked to step down from the role on Tuesday after Suella Braverman’s sacking as home secretary triggered a wave of hirings and firings in the Conservative cabinet, including the shock return of former prime minister David Cameron.

Rowley, a former estate agent before becoming a banker, previously held the role more than a year ago during Liz Truss’ disastrous premiership. He was in the post for just 49 days.

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Maclean said: “I’ve been asked to step down from my role as housing minister. Disappointed and was looking forward to introducing the Renters Reform Bill to committee tomorrow and later the Leasehold and Freehold Bill. It has been a privilege to hold the position and I wish my successor well.”

Generation Rent tweeted that they were “outraged” that Maclean was removed from her position just before the Renters Reform Bill was set for more scrutiny from MPs.

A Generation Rent spokesperson said: “Renters have been messed around so much with the delays to the Renters Reform Bill – now we’ve got yet more chaos.”

Labour’s shadow housing minister Matthew Pennycook, said: “I wish Rachel Maclean well for the future but her sacking perfectly illustrates this Tory government’s indifferent attitude to housing and planning. We need certainty and stability to get Britain building again.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas, who backed the Big Issue’s End Housing Insecurity Now campaign, said: “No wonder we’re seeing rip-off rents, cold and damp homes, and a chronic lack of social housing – Tory incompetence created this mess.”

Maclean lasted nine months in the role after being appointed in February 2023. That marks her out something as a veteran in the role – having lasted longer than her four previous predecessors and as long as the last three – Marcus Jones, Lee Rowley and Lucy Frazer – combined.

The last housing minister to last more than a year in the role was disgraced former Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher, who was in post for two years.

Like many of her predecessors, Maclean’s short stay as housing minister meant she wasn’t able to make much of a dent in the UK’s housing crisis.

She will likely be remembered for her comments about private renters at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester last month.

Maclean sparked controversy when she told landlords not all private renters “smoke weed” or “are in gangs”.

She said: “There are plenty of young people who are in the private rented sector (PRS) who are not weed-smoking bad people in gangs and crack dens and everything else and smashing up the neighbourhood.

“There are decent people hard working people in the PRS, and we need to do the right thing for them.”

Since her comments, the Renters Reform Bill has made progress through parliament but the government has revealed the bill’s headline change – the end of no-fault evictions – will not take effect until courts are reformed, effectively delaying the move indefinitely.

We’re calling on the Prime Minister to make sure everyone can afford to stay in their homes and pay for the essentials by:

  • Unfreezing Local Housing Allowance rates
  • Increasing Universal Credit to £120 a week for a single adult and £200 for a couple

Will you add your voice to our call and sign the petition?

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

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