Agent Provocateur: So many housing ministers, so many policies . . .

I’m not sure if it’s a function of age but I’m totally fed up with the short-term nature of our political system.

Will yesterday – with the publication of what is only a draft Bill on letting agents’ fees plus the launch of a new consultation on Client Money Protection – prove me wrong? I wonder.

Getting older dampens the effect on my blood pressure, but decades of experience gives me an understanding of what the longer-term effects are of some politically driven housing policies, and it’s very wearing.

Young people – unless slightly odd, politically aware and prone to giving speeches at the Tory conference in 1977 at 16 – have no idea what most politicians are on about, despite the fact that they’ll be most affected.

I only have to listen to my kids’ friends, who are still convinced Corbyn is going to wipe off all their debt, to understand that they simply don’t have a clue.

I didn’t either at the same age and didn’t until the onset of early middle age – or maybe that’s what brought it on.

The lack of a voice means the young won’t get a look in when meaningful policies that will affect them directly are made.

To hear Sajid Javid sagely telling us that now is the best time to borrow, apparently £100bn (no doubt Hammond will shoot that down anyway – oh, he has already) beggars belief almost ten years after this low interest rate paradigm started, and just as the Bank is telling us they’re about to start raising rates – seriously.

We have had many housing ministers (15 in 20 years and the latest one seems almost invisible) and not one of them in Cabinet.

We hear the same tawdry rhetoric, this time from Sajid Javid, about how we need to build more homes (WE KNOW, SAJID); and we have the same lack of ANY meaningful interaction with those who know how housing works.

Combined with an eye on winning the next election, it means no policy ever lasts more than one Parliament: it’s paralysing and profoundly depressing.

It is surely time to have a group formed of objective voices, not just from QANGOS and local government, but from the real world of property, including estate and letting agencies, asset managers, developers, building companies and employers.

An outfit like that, whose advice should be required by the Government before it acts, would go a long way to winning over the industry itself – as long as they were listened to.

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  1. Robert May

    Those who listened to Ian Duncan Smith at the Negotiator conference on Tuesday were given an insight into the problem.  He stood out the front  and gave a  confident and convincing oration about the problems faced by the industry and the nation.

    A researcher had  obviously  put a great deal of work into  preparing the numbers that were read out, they sounded convincing and when delivered by an keynote speaker MP they become accepted fact. The problem is the numbers are wrong and so the problem is not properly understood.

    Beware of group-think!


  2. Will

    They have had so many ministers because it is clear none of them knew what they were talking about!


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