The housing industry is being urged to prepare for some potential changes after Michael Gove was yesterday promoted to housing secretary, replacing Robert Jenrick in the government reshuffle.
Gove, who has left his role as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to replace Jenrick, “takes on cross-government responsibility for levelling up”. He also “retains ministerial responsibility for the Union and elections”.
Responding to Michael Gove being appointed Housing Secretary in the reshuffle, James Forrester, managing director of Barrows and Forrester, commented: “The government housing carousel continues to turn as yet another one bites the dust and it remains to be seen if there will be further casualties further down the ranks.
“Michael Gove is known as a Whitehall big hitter with a reputation for rocking the boat so we may well see some changes. However, the reality is probably more of the same tired, recycled rhetoric around housing policy.
“Expect to see more initiatives focussed on fuelling buyer demand to keep house prices buoyant and very little in terms of actually addressing the need for more housing.
“In recent times, those charged with addressing the current housing crisis have lasted less time in their post than it takes to sell a house. No wonder the sector has been riddled with scandal and an inability to reach housing targets.”
High on Gove’s to-do list will be the pressing need to address the growing housing supply crisis in both the sales and rental market.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said “We welcome Michael Gove to his new position and look forward to working with him to ensure the rental market works for responsible landlords and tenants alike.
“Key to this will be addressing the supply crisis in the sector by developing pro-growth policies that recognise the vital contribution it makes to housing millions of people across the country.”
Sam Le Pard co-founder of LEXI Finance, commented: “At a time when we still face a shortage of housing, material price inflation and supply chain issues, the new housing secretary will need to rapidly get to grips with their brief if they are to enable SME developers to play a key role in tackling the housing crisis.
“SMEs are vital to unlocking smaller tracts of land and regeneration sites across the country and will be essential if the government is to achieve its levelling-up agenda.”
Marc Vlessing, chief executive officer of Pocket Living, believes that the UK’s housing market is “dysfunctional and real change is needed”.
He said: “The new secretary of state has inherited his brief at a critical juncture, with a series of radical reforms currently held in stasis due to significant resistance from within a governing party unconvinced by the manner and need for change. Yet this is not the time to be timid or seek to reverse away from the fundamental issue the reforms seek to address.”
Nick Sanderson, CEO, Audley Group, concurred: “Top of Michael Gove’s agenda has to be aligning the housing and health departments. Under too many of the past leaders, these departments have operated in a fragmented way, ignoring holistic solutions which have the potential to tackle both the housing and social care crises.
“The need for change is urgent but it must be meaningful, bringing together housing, health and social care under one banner, marking a radical shift towards solving issues at their root.
“Building more specialist housing would have far reaching implications: freeing up existing family homes, taking pressure off the NHS and social care systems, and importantly giving older people suitable and aspirational housing that adapts to their changing needs. For me the greatest disappointment would be seeing more of what we have come to expect from the housing department. A focus on first time buyers that ignores other vitally important parts of the housing market.”