The impact housing minister changes have on the property sector

Housing ministers have a direct impact on housing policy in both sales and lettings. By being more stable and long-term, they can help the property industry function in a much better way.

Which is why the constant merry-go-round of ministers we’ve witnessed in recent decades has been so frustrating.

On February 8 2022, Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Stuart Andrew as the new housing minister in a mini reshuffle, while former housing minister Chris Pincher became Deputy Chief Whip.

This makes Andrew the 11th different UK housing minister in the short span of only 12 years. In addition to this, Andrew is also the 18th different minister (both Conservative and Labour) to be granted this position since 2001.

Housing ministers should be stable

Constant change not only takes time to adjust to, but in many circumstances such as business, it often implies that things are not going to plan. 

The speed that housing ministers are entering and leaving their role works out as nearly one new minister every 12 months. Surely, changing the housing minister so often cannot be progressive or effective when trying to reach important goals? 

Having a stable, continuous minister who is treasured could help save time and speed up the process of implementing changes that will benefit both the lettings and sales markets. 

Various recent factors including Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, Right to Rent changes, the cost of living crisis and more mean that now is the time, more than ever, that the UK property industry is reliant on the housing minister for guidance and support. 

Like all roles, the longer anyone partakes and puts into this, the more of an expert they are likely to become. If ministers have little or no experience in the industry, it is unlikely they will generate the best results.

For the UK lettings and sales industry, the housing minister is effectively the main spokesperson and representative for the property industry. They are the conduit between the industry and the government. For this reason, they should hold a long-term position so that they can be trusted and do the best possible job.

Failure to deliver promises

The recommendations put forward by the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) working group have still not been achieved despite cross-party support for most of the suggestions that were made.

Additionally, reform to the private rental sector (PRS) is taking a long time to come into action. 

Legislative change is by no means simple, yet time spent on changing ministers is likely to distract from proper planning that is needed to action real change and keep promises.

Instead of headlining government policies to meet current political needs and accumulate voters, housing strategies for the future must be planned according to real need and then appropriately implemented.

Housing is a basic right, and housing ministers must do all they can to ensure this is being met. If less time was spent on replacing ministers and more time was spent focusing on the crux of the issues in the industry and resolving these, we would be miles further ahead than we are.

Having a clear vision for housing and renting in this country begins by maintaining and prioritising having a long-term, stable and secure minister who is an expert in the field. We have to hope Stuart Andrew lasts a little longer than his predecessors.

Published on 31/03/2022