Reshuffle: Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government created

No new Secretary of State, but Sajid Javid’s new job title reflects his department’s renewed emphasis on housing.

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Theresa May has stopped short of creating a Secretary of State for housing as speculated – but housing takes first place in the new post-reshuffle title for Sajid Javid and his department.

As of today, Javid is secretary of state for housing, communities and local government – an indication that housing will be his priority.

The DCLG will also reflect this change to become the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Housing had been tipped to have a secretary of State of its own given May’s personal commitment to tackling the housing crisis.

In a poll 24housing conducted last year, 75% of respondents said they would like to see the housing minister post being made into a cabinet position.

After the announcement, Javid said: “Building the homes our country needs is an absolute priority for this government and so I’m delighted the Prime Minister has asked me to serve in this role.

“The name change for the department reflects this government’s renewed focus to deliver more homes and build strong communities across England.”

The sector did see some change however, as Alok Sharma was moved from Housing Minister to DWP, with Dominic Raab replacing him.

In the DWP, David Gauke has been moved from his role as Secretary of State and replaced by Esther McVey.

In other news, Marcus Jones has moved from communities minister to become Conservative vice-chairman for local government.

Former housing minister Brandon Lewis becomes Conservative Party chairman and a minister without portfolio.

David Orr, Chief Executive at the National Housing Federation, said: “Redefining Sajid Javid’s role to clearly emphasise housing is a welcome demonstration of the Prime Minister’s commitment to fixing the UK’s broken housing market.

“But actions speak louder than words. If we are to meet the Government’s ambition of building 300,000 homes a year, every year, then we need a long-term supply of affordable land.

“The Government must ensure public land is used for housing and that private land is bought where it is needed to create new communities.

“We will continue to work with the Secretary of State and the Government to build a new generation of genuinely affordable, quality homes for rent and for sale and we look forward to hearing more detail about what today’s announcement means.”

Terrie Alafat, the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “We welcome the decision to change the name of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to incorporate housing.

“It is right that housing is given this profile and we hope this decision represents a long-term commitment to address the very serious housing issues facing the nation.”

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said the inclusion of the word housing sent a “clear signal” as to the importance the Government places on housing policy.

“However, actions always speak louder than words which is why it is vital that we also see continuity, application and a continued willingness to be bold where necessary in housing policy.

“We want to see continuity in terms of building on a set of good policies to unleash the capacity of the SME house building sector set out in the Housing White Paper; application in terms of effective implementation; and a willingness to still be bold where Government intervention is still called for,” he said.

Tim Miles, a Partner in Social Housing team at national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP, said it was “disappointing” that housing had not been made a standalone cabinet post.

“As he was already responsible for the Department of Communities and Local Government brief, which already encompassed responsibility for housing, it is difficult to see how Mr Javid’s day-to-day role will actually change, unless the Minister of State position for Housing is abolished, which would seem unlikely.

“Beyond symbolism, since 2010 the lion’s share of government housing policy has focused on increasing home ownership, which is only half of the story.

“The wider issues of increasing rents and lack of supply of rental homes (including genuine social rent homes) will also be required to be addressed if the housing crisis can ever truly be solved.

“To be an effective Secretary of State, Mr Javid will need to advocate strongly for a change of direction of government policy to address all areas of the housing crisis.”

Richard Lambert, CEO at the National Landlords Association (NLA), said: “We hope that this works out to be more than just rebranding exercise, and that Mr Javid and his department will look to address the housing crisis by genuinely working across all tenures, not by fixating on building more homes.”

NHBC Chief Executive Steve Wood said: “NHBC welcomes the Prime Minister’s commitment at the start of 2018 to addressing the challenges faced by the housing sector, reflected in the Secretary of State’s new job title and renamed department.

“We look forward to continuing our positive relationship with the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP and his department. NHBC remains committed to helping the industry to deliver the high quality new homes that consumers deserve and that the country needs.”

Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said: “If the Prime Minister was intending to give the impression that she is taking the housing crisis seriously by rebranding the department, she has failed.

“Swapping one housing minister for another after just seven months shows that there is still a revolving door at the department. What we need from the Prime Minister is not a rebrand or a reshuffle but additional funding for affordable housing.

“The Mayor has been clear that we need 66,000 new homes a year to tackle London’s housing crisis but he has not been handed the adequate funding to make that happen.

“It’s time this government showed they were about more than gesture politics and the only way to do so is by stumping up the cash for the many thousands of genuinely affordable homes we so desperately need.”

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