Revolving door leaves housing in a spin
Even people connected to the sector are hard put to answer the question: who is this week’s housing minister? The answer, since 20 September 2022, is Lee Rowley, the Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire, but before he gets too many business cards printed he might remember that he is, incredibly, the 23rd housing minister since 1997. They don’t last long, especially recently (more than one a year for the last 12). And we may hear about next week’s any time soon – and that is a problem.
Continuity matters in all aspects of public policy and for relationships with such key figures to be effective, they need to be forged and nurtured over time. Housing, we have noticed, takes time to happen, plans can easily stall – and appointing a new minister every few months or so is not easing the pathway to achievement.
It is inevitable that political volatility results in mixed messaging – and in the sphere of housing this leads to prolonged difficulties for the already disadvantaged.
Rowley, 42, a former management consultant, describes his new role as “a big job to help raise standards and service across the sector, to improve how planning works for local communities and, vitally, to empower more people to achieve their dream of home ownership”.
We look forward to hearing in detail his progress with planning “improvements” for local communities and how his intention to promote greater home ownership is going, against a background of financial instability and an affordability gap that is seemingly unbridgeable for so many.
We wish him luck – and who knows if his tenure will last long enough to do some good, as his hapless predecessor only lasted 61 days.