Pragmatism and partnerships win

A week on after the Cathy Come Home anniversary, the housing minister has stepped back from the brink.

Housing Minister Gavin Barwell giving a speech

Sustained lobbying by local authorities and the housing sector has yielded a significant result.

You don’t ask, you don’t get. Massive costs to the public purse and social dislocation are not vote winners.

But the argument had been made before to the Cameron administration.

There are several factors in play. First, the rejection of the Osborne reign of terror is being done step by step.

The key element is money. The long term objective is to remove people from benefits and build stable communities. And a transient population is less easy to support.

Finally, this is part of a realisation Whitehall cannot control everything. Smaller government can also be local.

The prime minister, some of her key aides, the chancellor and housing minister are all ex-councillors. They all started their political careers in London local authorities.

The May administration has its roots in town halls and the realities of ward meetings. Not the Bullingdon Club.

The rent cut is still a reality, as are benefit cuts. But recognising the vital need for partnerships and a willingness to take pragmatic decisions will help the housing sector and low income residents.

This is a well timed step in the right direction.

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