Industry groups have welcomed Kit Malthouse as housing minister - but make little effort to hide their frustrations, disappointment and disillusionment.
Malthouse was announced late yesterday afternoon following the rapid promotion of Dominic Raab to Brexit Secretary, seven months to the day after he had been made housing minister in a New Year reshuffle.
Malthouse, 51, is a former accountant who chairs his own finance company and has been an MP for only three years; he is not thought to have any experience of housing issues, nor to have expressed any interest in the portfolio prior to his appointment.
A joint statement overnight from David Cox, chief executive of ARLA and Mark Hayward, chief executive of the NAEA, says: “We hope that he is able to bring some continuity to this post as we are now on the fourth housing minister in little over 12 months, and if the government really wants to fix the broken housing market, consistency is important.
There have been a large number of consultations over the last few years, all of which now require policy to be put into place; it’s not entirely clear how this can happen if a new minister is reshuffled as soon as they are in post long enough to understand their brief. This is a situation in which we would probably welcome a three-year minimum term although given our experience so far that would be wishful thinking.”
Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, was more outspoken with his statement.
“It felt like slowly but surely Dominic Raab was starting to make a difference but less than seven months later we are once again left with a housing minister with very little housing experience. Quite frankly, with Brexit now less than a year away, it appears that government is letting its focus on the UK property market fall by the wayside” he says.
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, says: “The housing sector will be frustrated with yet one more housing minister, but there are extenuating circumstances and the national interest must come first. However, if the Government is to meet its aspirations of delivering 300,000 new homes each year, this revolving door of housing ministers must stop.
“What’s most important now is that we do not lose momentum behind the housing policies born out of the Housing White Paper, which supported housing of all tenures including Build To Rent.
“We welcome Malthouse, we hope his previous experience at [the London Assembly] and Westminster City Council means he can hit the ground running, and we look forward to working with him to undo the damage caused by the acute undersupply of new housing over the past few decades.”
Malthouse is MP for North West Hampshire, a countryside constituency, and the CLA - which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses across England and Wales - says it welcomes his appointment.
“The shortage of homes is not only experienced in towns and cities but across our rural areas too. It is vital that the new housing minister shows strong leadership to navigate both the housing and planning systems. Ensuring the right type of homes are built in the countryside can breathe new life into villages and give these communities the chance to survive the future” says CLA president Tim Breitmeyer.
“However, positive development is too often held back by policies which do little to promote sustainable housing growth across rural areas. We welcome the fact that a rural MP is taking over this brief and I look forward to working with Mr Malthouse to ensure that landowners are part of the solution to help solve the rural housing crisis.”