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Industry reacts to appointment of new housing minister

The property industry has broadly welcomed the appointment of a new housing minister, which was made yesterday evening.

Reading West MP Alok Sharma will replace Gavin Barwell who, after losing his seat in last week’s election, has been appointed Theresa May’s chief of staff.

Sharma, 49, was previously a minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is a qualified accountant.

He is the 15th housing minister since 1997 and the sixth to take the role since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.

The role of housing minister does not hold a cabinet position, despite the majority of politicians stressing the importance of tackling housing issues.

Sharma, who held on to his seat last week by a majority of 3,000 votes, will be expected to implement the policies outlined in the housing white paper published in February.

The Residential Landlords Association has welcomed Sharma’s appointment and says it looks forward to working with him.

“As he gets to work, we urge him to reflect positively on the contribution that the private rented sector and the majority of landlords can make to tackling the housing crisis,” says RLA chairman Alan Ward.

“Through better enforcement of regulations to root out criminal landlords; pro-growth taxation; and a planning system that frees up small plots of unused public sector land for new homes we can ensure that the sector meets the needs of those who rely on the sector for a place to live.”

Dan Gandesha, founder of property investment website Property Partner, adds: "We hope Alok Sharma is able to get a grip of a housing crisis that represents one of the biggest threats to spending power in Britain and the UK economy.”

"We urge him to make clear without delay that commitments made in the Housing White Paper still stand and that investment in homes of all types remain key priorities for the new government, particularly when it comes to affordable, quality rental stock which is a growing issue in the UK's cities and the capital.”

Gandesha says the 3% stamp duty surcharge should also be reviewed with ‘fresh eyes’ and that a move to speed up the planning process to prevent land banking would make a ‘revolutionary impact’ on the market.

The CLA, which represents rural landlords all over the UK, has also welcomed the appointment. 

“The Government has a big role to play in helping to boost the provision of homes across our rural communities. We look forward to working with the minister to bring forward innovative policy ideas that will help rural landowning businesses unlock the potential of land and assets,” says CLA president Ross Murray.

“Tackling this challenge effectively will reinvigorate rural communities and help to build a stronger, more sustainable countryside.”

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