Esther McVey has been served a ‘Section 21’ by Downing Street – her short term tenure as housing minister is over.
But Robert Jenrick is staying on as Housing Secretary offering the sector some much-needed continuity.
McVey confirmed her sacking on her twitter account having been one of the first ministers ‘reshuffled’ by the PM this morning (13th February).
I’m very sorry to be relieved of my duties as Housing Minister
I wish my successor the very best & every success
I’m very grateful to the Prime Minister for having given me the opportunity to serve in his government & he will continue to have my support from the back benches
— Esther McVey (@EstherMcVey1) February 13, 2020
As yet, there is no word on McVey’s successor, but former housing minister Alok Sharma makes a big move to Business Secretary and Dominic Raab stays on as Foreign Secretary.
The loss of housing knowledge to next month’s budget brought about by the resignation of former Housing Secretary Sajid Javid as Chancellor, is partly offset by the appointment of MHCLG alumni Rishi Sunak as his replacement.
Last month, the Institute for Government (IfG) said the number of different housing ministers since 1997 left the UK “often lacking” a department strong enough to articulate a coherent housing policy – with housing is more often a stepping-stone portfolio to promotion.
IfG specifically cited housing as an example cited in its report on the frequency government reshuffles.
While recent governments have said addressing the housing crisis is a priority, the average minister of state for housing since 1997 has stayed in post just 14 months.
McVey lasted seven months to see the sector facing its tenth minister in ten years: the longest in post staying just over two years.
Three ministers lasted nine months or fewer.
By contrast, average tenure between the 1950s and the 1980s was over two years, and several ministers stayed in post for four or five years.
David Montague, L&Q Group Chief Executive, said ten housing ministers in ten years told its own story.
“But we now need to look to the future, we need government to take a long-term strategic view of housing.
“This means support for social housing must be as important as home ownership,” he said.
But Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions, said McVey’s sacking posed questions as to the “real relevance” of the Housing Minister’s role.
“Given the challenges facing the UK property market, the lack of consistent leadership from the Government in this space is extremely frustrating.
“We will never be in a position to properly address issues like the housing crisis, not to mention the obstacles preventing people from jumping on and moving up the property ladder, until Westminster gives the position of housing minister more respect and consideration,” he said.
Audley Group CEO Nick Sanderson also questioned the turn-over saying a “lack of understanding of the real issues” continues to lead to sticking plaster policies like building more houses.
“If a change does need to be made, it should be meaningful: bringing together housing, health and social care under one banner would be a genuinely radical shift towards solving issues at their root,” said Sanderson.
“The government must act now and work with the industry to change the narrative on housing and find solutions before the pressure on the system boils over,” he said.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, due to rule on the Grenfell evidence immunity application, is to hand that ruling onto new Attorney General Suella Braverman.
And the sector will have a new Environment Secretary to work with on the carbon emissions agenda with Theresa Villiers out and George Eustice in.
Therese Coffey stays on as Work and Pensions Secretary.