We’ve seen some momentous changes in politics this week, not just a shuffle around of cabinet posts this time, but an almost total clear-out and a new set of Ministers loyal to Johnson and committed to Brexit. Will he get a grip on housing?
Esther McVey has been appointed Minister of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Ms McVey will now work with Mr Robert Jenrick, a lawyer by background, who was has been appointed as housing secretary after the incumbent James Brokenshire left the role – now familiar process with housing Ministers, few of whom seem to last long.
Ms McVey, who is the MP for Tatton, held roles as the minister for employment, deputy chief whip, and parliamentary undersecretary for disabled people.
In the past Boris Johnson has been highly critical of the Tories’ housing policy, especially when he was Mayor of London, but has lately praised the Right-to-Buy policy.
Conservative policy has always been to encourage home ownership as opposed to rental housing, whether this be in the social sector or private, so we will have to wait and see how the cards fall under Boris’s new leadership – will the ongoing tenure consultations be curtailed?
With the possibility of an election looming over them, the Tories will be mindful of a housing crisis of considerable proportions. House prices have risen to such an extent that many are now priced out of the home buyers’ market.
However, a rising proportion of renters goes against the grain: the Tories know that as soon as young people get a mortgage, as soon as they have a stake in society, (1) they are far less likely to go on strike, and (2) they are more likely to vote Conservative.
So, the big question on everyone’s lips, certainly those with an interest in housing, as Boris enters Number 10, is: what does he really think about housing? And what is he most likely to do?
Given his propensity to change his mind, and leave the detail to others, pinning down his exact focus and the eventual direction is not easy. But as reported by Inside Housing, reliable sources have said he is considering a funding channel towards part-rent, part ownership, an obvious first step towards encouraging more ownership. This could include a policy move away from social renting, a sector Johnson has been critical of in the past.