Five crucial facts about the new Housing Minister:
- He was once tipped to lead the Conservative Party
- He’s pro-Leave
- He’s determined to protect the Green Belt
- He was the Spectator’s ‘Newcomer of the Year’ in 2011
- He’s a former lawyer who has worked for the foreign office
The fourth Minister for Housing in three years, Dominic Raab hasn’t received the warmest of welcomes. He takes the reins from Alok Sharma, who had only clung to the title since June. Needless to say, many industry players have expressed their concerns about the role enjoying less continuity than a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts.
“Appointing a new housing minister is a step in the wrong direction for this government,” said Félicie Krikler, director at Assael Architecture. “The industry needs political and economic certainty and stability at this crucial time to make progress on the housing front and bring forward the policies laid out in last year’s Housing White Paper.
“Understanding and addressing the issues plaguing the market requires time and effort, as does engaging the wider industry. I hope that Dominic Raab can quickly contribute to the political push required towards unlocking the housing market.”
Once an outside bet for future leader of the Conservative Party, Dominic Raab appears to have sidestepped into a role which, at first glance, seems at odds with his background. A former solicitor with a keen interest in Middle Eastern affairs, Raab will have to get to grips with an incredibly complex brief in lightening speed.
Grant Lipton, co-founder at Great Marlborough Estates, said, “In recent months, the Conservative government has taken positive steps to addressing the housing crisis. However, the time-costly process of switching housing ministers threatens this momentum. The expansion of Sajid Javid’s remit is a positive move, and I hope that Dominic Raab will be able to quickly get on with the task at hand.”
Raab’s background gives little clue about his ability to meet this hope. He worked initially at Linklaters and later the foreign office before being elected as MP for Esher and Walton in 2010. He quickly rose to prominence, with The Spectator magazine naming him ‘Best Newcomer’ in 2011.
In-keeping with his background, he served as Minister for Human Rights and then as Minister of State for Courts and Justice, following a brief spell on the backbenches. Raab hails from the right of the party; he has been a vocal member of the Leave party and fought against positive discrimination.
He has been more concerned with foreign policy than local housing, although very vocal about protecting the Green Belt – to date, the only clue to his leanings on housing policy, apart from consistently voting to phase out secure tenancies for life.
Alok Sharma’s brief tenure saw a renewed focus on social and affordable homes. He also championed housing associations and called for more variety in the market. One of Raab’s major challenges will be to oversee the publication of the much-awaited Green Paper on social housing.
The role of Housing Minister will enjoy more prominence in the newly named department; time will tell if Raab can leverage that to achieve what his predecessors strived for, but were not given the time to achieve.