James Brokenshire has been named as the new Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government as Sajid Javid moves to be Home Secretary at a crucial time for the housing sector.
He will have a number of major issues to get to grips with, according to the housing industry, and he is not a favourite with landlords having overseen the introduction of right to rent checks when he was Immigration Minister.
More recently Brokenshire was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland but resigned in January 2018 for health reason but returned to work as an MP a few weeks after undergoing lung surgery.
‘Honoured to have been asked by the Prime Minister to serve as Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government. Looking forward to taking the Government’s agenda forward especially on building the homes our country needs,’ he said in Tweet after being appointed.
The housing industry is hoping that he can take a number of key issues on board including planning changes, the crackdown on rogue landlords, regulatory change in the lettings industry, new professional standards for estate agents and new home building targets.
Mark Hayward, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and David Cox, chief executive of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), issued a joint statement welcoming him to the job.
‘Over the last 12 months, housing has been high on the political agenda, with Sajid Javid and his team working closely with the industry to make qualifications for property professionals compulsory, and ultimately make the process of buying, selling, renting or leasing a property better for consumers,’ it said.
‘We look forward to meeting the new Minister and working with him and his team over the coming months and hope the Department’s position and policy focus stays on track,’ it added.
He takes over at a crucial time for the housing sector, according to Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). ‘We hope that Brokenshire will build on Javid’s good work, both in terms of raising the profile of housing as an issue at Cabinet level, and implementing some sound policies aimed at tackling the housing shortage,’ he said.
‘In particular, we are keen to work with the new Secretary of State to unleash the capacity of small local house builders. Last year’s Housing White Paper and the November Budget Statement that followed have given us a blueprint for change but now we need to get on and do it. We stand ready to help Brokenshire deliver the 300,000 new homes per year needed in England alone,’ he added.
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said the organisation is looking forward to working with Brokenshire to drive forward the Government’s multi-tenure approach to new housing delivery and the policy changes to the National Planning Policy Framework.
‘These changes underpin the government’s agenda on so many levels, providing the right homes in the right places will increase UK productivity, economic growth and social wellbeing in the long term,’ she added.
Charles McDowell, Aldermore’s commercial director for mortgages, urged Brokenshire to carry on with the work already started by Javid. ‘Housing is an important issue, if not one of the most important issues facing our country. This is a problem that has been created over the long term by constantly applying short term sticking plasters and announcing yet more consultations,’ he said.
‘It can only be solved with long term strategic thinking. We have been clear that the Government must prioritise the building of homes in the right places with infrastructure and facilities in order that we have the houses that are desperately needed. We look forward to working with the new Secretary of State,’ he added.