Sajid Javid’s move to the Home Office sees the fourth new secretary of state responsible for housing in three years
The construction industry has voiced concerns about the revolving door of secretaries of state running the department of housing, communities and local government.
Today, prime minister Theresa May appointed James Brokenshire as the fourth secretary of state responsible for housing in the space of three years as Sajid Javid (pictured) moves to the Home Office.
Mark Farmer, chief executive of Cast and author of a 2016 independent review into the capacity of the homebuilding industry, said the change put the industry in a tenuous position.
He said: “Once again, an unplanned cabinet reshuffle is going to potentially leave the housing industry without strong and contiguous political leadership at a crucial time.
“As an industry, we can only hope that the creation of ministry of housing, communities and local government really was an indication that housing has been pushed higher up the agenda and that the new secretary of state is able to pick up his new brief quickly, is prepared to learn, listen and engage the housing industry as we face a deteriorating skills crisis, growing concerns around new-build quality and multiple government initiatives in play looking at intervening to fix the broken housing market.”
Christian Cubitt, RICS director of communications, said the organisation hoped this move would bring long-term stability to the department.
He said: “Hopefully this time we will see some consistency and continuity to the approach in dealing with the housing crisis, given what a key issue it is.
“We urge the secretary of state to continue his predecessor’s work to effectively regulate the sector in partnership with industry and to act on the review of planning regulations that will conclude shortly.
“Even while housing is cited as a top priority and the prime minister declared it her ’personal mission’ to solve the housing crisis, government refuses to commit to ministers to cause the long term, leading to a revolving door that shows no signs of slowing.”
Russell Pedley, director at Assael Architecture, agreed the move raised doubts about the government’s commitment to addressing the issues in the housing sector.
He said: “The Government’s actions here show that, once again, other departments take a priority over housing. If we are serious about fixing the broken housing market, delivering affordable homes at high volume and transforming the outdated delivery model, then we need consistent leadership at the top.”
Timing has also been a concern for many in the industry, with Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, saying the switch came at a pivotal moment for construction.
He said: “We hope that Brokenshire will build on Javid’s good work, both in terms of raising the profile of housing as an issue at cabinet level, and implementing some sound policies aimed at tackling the housing shortage. In particular, we are keen to work with the new Secretary of State to unleash the capacity of small local house builders.
“Last year’s Housing White Paper and the November Budget Statement that followed have given us a blueprint for change but now we need to get on and do it. We stand ready to help Brokenshire deliver the 300,000 new homes per year needed in England alone.”