In my last article, I suggested it was difficult for Housing policy to be considered in any coherent fashion when there had been 16 Housing Ministers in the last 20 years, an average tenure of a little over a year. Within 48 hours of submitting that missive, you can imagine the harrumph at the breakfast table when the latest Westminster reshuffle announced Kit Malthouse as the 17th Housing Minister in 20 years, Dominic Raab having been moved to Brexit duties after just six months in post.
Shelter is a basic human need and Housing is a political football. I appreciate neither of these points could be considered breaking news, but the disjointed thinking and perpetual inertia towards the issue on both sides of the political spectrum riles me increasingly daily, for one principal reason.
The UK Cabinet currently comprises the Prime Minister and 21 cabinet ministers. Roll that number around your head for a moment. There are 21 ministers overseeing the various aspects of national government policy and consequent implementation. Then consider that none of those 21 ministers has dedicated sole responsibility for overseeing the practicalities of housing the 65 million individuals in the UK.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) was renamed the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) in January 2018, ostensibly to move housing up the political agenda. Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State at the time said, ‘The name change for the department reflects this government’s renewed focus to deliver more homes and build strong communities across England’.