The new housing minister is Christopher Pincher, who for the past decade has been Conservative MP for Tamworth having had a career before that as an IT consultant.
During his time in the Commons, Pincher has held three minor roles, one of which ended in controversy; none of his roles suggest any experience of the housing brief.
The first role was as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to then Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and an assistant whip; he then became deputy chief government whip, and finally - for the past six month - minister of state for Europe and the Americas.
In November 2017 Pincher stood down from the first of those three roles after allegations about his behaviour.
A BBC report at the time said: “Mr Pincher has also referred himself to police and the Conservative party's complaints procedure following newspaper reports of allegations about his conduct in 2001 made by a party activist.”
In December that year the Conservative Party's investigating panel determined that Pincher had not breached the code of conduct. At the time the MP told the Mail on Sunday that if the activist “ever felt offended by anything I said, then I can only apologise to him.”
Pincher takes over as housing minister from high-profile Esther McVey; yesterday evening he tweeted that he was “delighted” to become housing minister, although he was “sad to be leaving a great team at the Foreign Office.” He added that he was looking forward to “getting stuck in” alongside his political boss, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
Pincher’s tenure will be a busy one, even if he survives only for the same short period of time given to most of his recent predecessors.
He will be charged with steering through the Renters' Reform Bill - announced in December’s Queen’s Speech but so far without any timetable for being introduced as a law. This measure will abolish Section 21 and introduce the lifetime deposit concept announced as a Conservative manifesto pledge in the December election.
Pincher will also have to decide what to do about the recommendations of the Regulation of Property Agents’ working group, which has recommended mandatory qualifications for agents. Again, there is no timetable for the implementation of these recommendations, although the working group chair - Lord Best - insists they are likely to come into force within about two years.
A statement last evening from Mark Hayward and David Cox, chief executives of NAEA and ARLA Propertymark, says: “We welcome Christopher Pincher as the new Housing Minister. Unfortunately, the lack of continuity in this post and the persistent changes means it’s near impossible for anyone in the role to make an impact. Fixing the broken housing market should be the priority, and there’s a number of consultations and policy that requires action – most importantly the Regulation of Property Agents. We look forward to working with the new minister on these important changes to the industry.”
Meanwhile it’s been claimed by The Mirror newspaper that Esther McVey, sacked as housing minister yesterday after only seven months in the job, is to receive a pay off of £7,920 for her housing role.
This will not be the first pay off she has received in recent times; in November 2018 she received £16,876 after being sacked as Work and Pensions Secretary - a position she held for only 10 months.