The government department that regulates and oversees landlords and the private rented sector has been renamed and given a new ‘levelling up’ focus.
Formerly the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, it will be now known as the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).
This decision follows the sacking of its Minister of State Robert Jenrick last week and the arrival of his replacement, Michael Gove, and a new ‘levelling up’ junior minister, Kemi Badenoch.
The change has clearly been made at pace – the organisation’s website and other online collateral remains with the old name at the time of writing – and most consider it to be a demotion in status from ministry to department.
But its Twitter account, which is followed by some 120,000 people, has changed – but now makes no mention of housing.
The renaming, which was announced yesterday, follows a previous re-naming in 2018 by Theresa May, from the Department for Communities and Local Government to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
At the time, May’s government said this was to highlight her determination to sold the housing crisis, so given the ongoing battles in many policy areas including cladding, leasehold, planning and house building, the new focus is puzzling.
The Conservative government is now pressing hard on levelling up; over the weekend Boris Johnson appointed former Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane to head up a new Levelling Up Taskforce.
This has been jointly established by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove MP.
He says: “I’m thrilled that the PM has asked me to lead the Levelling Up agenda, the defining mission of this Government.
“With a superb team of ministers and officials in a new department, our relentless focus will be on delivering for those overlooked families and undervalued communities across the United Kingdom.”
Reaction to the name change has been mixed. The LibDem’s housing spokesperson and former leader Tim Farron (pictured) described it as ‘Orwellian‘.
Twitter has been quick to lampoon the change, making comparisons to Monty Python’s ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’, while more thoughtful critics have highlighted how it’s the first government department to be named after a policy or aim, rather than an activity.