Dominic Raab has been named the country’s new housing minister, becoming the 15th politician to hold the role in just 17 years.
As part of Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle, Raab replaces Alok Sharma who started in the role just over six months ago when he took over from Gavin Barwell.
Raab moves over from the Ministry of Justice where he had been a junior minister since 2015.
Last February, he was one of the MPs that lobbied the government against building on the Green Belt as it developed the Housing White Paper. He was also a leading campaigner for Brexit in the referendum.
The Prime Minister has said fixing the broken housing market is one of the key priorities of her government.
But Raab’s appointment hasn’t gone down well.
Sharma, who will now take up a minister for employment role in the Department for Work and Pensions, was leading on the government’s Social Housing Green Paper, including a roadshow around the country to meet social housing tenants.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said on Twitter he was “disappointed” to see Sharma leave.
“I admit to being disappointed that Alok Sharma has been moved from housing. He’s been impressive in meeting tenants and engaging with the sector. And less than seven months is a short time even in the notoriously short-lived world of housing ministers,” Orr stated.
Sharma has also been applauded for his humble reaction to the Grenfell Tower fire, which happened the day after he was appointed housing minister, and the way he managed to gain the sector’s trust. He worked hard to improve the government’s dialogue with social housing residents and advocates.
Many in the industry are simply sick of the merry-go-round of housing ministers. The Intermediary Mortgage Lending Association pointed out that the turnover of housing ministers far outstrips the rate at which the average Briton moves house.
Raab will work under Sajid Javid, the secretary of state for the newly-named Ministry of Housing, Local Government and Communities. Javid’s new title makes housing a cabinet position for the first time.
In other Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government appointments, Rishi Sunak has been appointed a junior minister to replace Marcus Jones, who had responsibility for homelessness and was leading on the government’s plans for supported housing funding.
Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “We congratulate Dominic Raab on becoming the new housing minister and we look forward to working with him. We hope that the very valuable work Alok Sharma has been doing, including his work travelling around the country to consult with tenants, continues. Given the very serious housing challenges our nation faces we also now hope for continuity in this crucial role.”
DealMakerz thinks Raab has his work cut out to win over the industry’s trust, particularly given the challenging backdrop of the Grenfell fire and affordability concerns.
Appointing yet another minister so soon certainly doesn’t help with long-term planning.
Hopefully Raab will do a good job and, if he does, be allowed to stick with it for a decent length of time.