ANOTHER day, another housing minister. Christopher Pincher (pictured) has become the latest incumbent to hold the notoriously short-lived brief, courtesy of Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle yesterday.
Pincher, MP for Tamworth since 2010, was previously at the Foreign Office, where he was minister for Europe and the Americas. He succeeds Tatton MP Esther McVey; she had only held the post for some seven months before being ejected from the role.
The latest ministerial changeover brings the tally of housing ministers to 10 in a decade. This has prompted some concerns from the sector over the impact this rapid turnover has had on policy and efforts to tackle the housing crisis.
There have been calls for continuity, in the wake of this latest change, though some might suggest – what with the Government’s heavy bias towards home ownership over other tenures (particularly social housing) these past 10 years – that we’ve seen plenty.
Even so, there’s a clear craving for some stability, and the ability to feel some confidence that a housing minister is likely to stick around to see the job through.
Ali Akbor OBE, chief executive of Leeds-based Unity Homes & Enterprise has urged Pincher to fulfil the sector’s desire for continuity and “get on with the job”.
“Esther McVey’s appointment was a strange decision, and seemed more like a reward for backing Boris Johnson in the Conservative leadership contest after she was eliminated in the first round,” Akbor said.
“As a former deputy chief whip and Foreign Office minister, Christopher Pincher knows how Government works and should be well-equipped to fight for the resources we need to tackle the national housing crisis.
“I hope the Prime Minister allows him to get on with the job. Ten Housing Ministers in 10 years goes some way to explaining why the problems we face in housing continue to rumble on. It is surely time for continuity in that role.
“The newly-elected Government has placed home ownership much higher on its priority list than increasing the number of affordable properties developed by housing associations. I hope that Mr Pincher will quickly understand the role we can play to build more homes, improve people’s lives and enable local communities to become more sustainable.”
There are similar concerns in the construction industry, if a comment from the managing director of construction consultancy McBains is anything to go by.
“We wish Christopher Pincher well in his new post as housing minister, although he is the tenth Housing Minister since 2010, and during that time only two ministers have lasted more than two years,” said Clive Docwra.
“Constant chopping and changing does the construction industry little good as it creates uncertainty on the direction of housing policy. Changes in Ministers inevitably mean changes in priority, if not policy, so we hope that Mr Pincher will be given a good run in the post so that he can develop a constructive relationship with the sector.”
Meanwhile, Jake Berry has moved away from his role as Northern Powerhouse minister. The Rossendale & Darwen MP, said in a tweet: “It has been the greatest privilege of my life to fight for the North in Westminster.”
I firmly believe that the Northern Powerhouse was the foundation stone of the blue wall that delivered a Conservative majority Government (2/4)
— Jake Berry (@JakeBerry) February 13, 2020
Berry is succeeded in the role by Simon Clarke MP, who represents the Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland constituency. He greeted the appointment on Twitter:
I am absolutely delighted @BorisJohnson has now asked me to serve as Minister of State @mhclg, tasked with delivering the Government’s #levellingup agenda. The #NorthernPowerhouse is my home. Its battles are those I know so well through my role as a proud Teessider (1/) pic.twitter.com/V2o5KiGk91
— Simon Clarke MP (@SimonClarkeMP) February 14, 2020