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Brexit resignations cause more upheaval in UK housing sector

The UK saw more political turmoil this week after two major cabinet resignations, and the housing industry is now faced with its 17th housing minister in 20 years.

The Prime Minister has been forced to reshuffle her pack after David Davis, the secretary of state for exiting the EU, and Boris Johnson, the secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs, both handed in their resignations this week amid disagreements over the progress of Brexit.

What this means for the country’s housing market direction is another leadership change, after the minister of state for housing, communities and local government, Dominic Raab, was appointed as Davis’ replacement to lead Brexit, with Kit Malthouse named the new housing minister in his place.

Raab, who had only served as the minister of state for housing, communities and local government since January this year, was already the 16th housing minister to serve since 1997, making Malthouse the 17th – and the eighth since 2010 – and leading many to regard the situation as a housing minister “merry-go-round”.

Some believe that there should be an independent housing body put in place to lead policy, to create consistency and cohesion in the country’s housing industry which has faced huge upheaval in recent years.

Russell Quirk, chief executive of hybrid estate agent Emoov, said: “We need consistency. We are in the midst of a housing crisis, a deficit of 100,000 new homes each year and acute unaffordability.

“How are we as an industry or indeed the civil service to take the government seriously when they say that housing is a priority when, in fact, they play ‘Fantasy Housing Minister League’ like this with scant regard for the consequences.”

Who is Kit Malthouse?

First elected as a local councillor in Westminster in 1998, new housing minister Kit Malthouse has been MP for North West Hampshire since May 2016. He is an active campaigner around childrens’ issues and the promotion of small businesses, and was a member of the Treasury Sub-Committee and the Armed Forces Bill Committee.

In January this year, Malthouse was also appointed the parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Work and Pensions, responsible for financial support for housing, including within Universal Credit.

Talking about the Finance Bill in relation to the country’s housing situation, Malthouse said in December last year: “The government are doing a lot in the Bill to help the housing market and have rightly identified that home ownership has fallen relatively significantly over the last few years.

“They should be commended for the action that they are taking, certainly with regard to young people, but housing is not the only asset class available.

“The solution to the housing market will be a long-term one. We are trying to build as many houses as we possibly can – we need 250,000 to 300,000 houses a year to bridge the demand and supply problem – but that will take some time to do.”

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