Former housing Gavin Barwell was toppled in the General Election 8 June, losing his Central Croydon Seat, and will be taking up a new position as Chief of Staff at No. 10. This means the industry will get its 15th housing minister in 20 years, although no one has been appointed yet.
“It is likely that we will see some ministerial shake-ups in the coming days and weeks,” said Adam Challis, Head of Residential Research at JLL. “For the most part, big changes would be unfortunate with respect to senior housing market posts, notably the loss of Housing Minister Gavin Barwell. It will be crucial that the new champions of housing market policy in Government can reaffirm commitments to the current policy direction rather than to create further disruption or uncertainty.
“Importantly for housing supply, the policy direction as set out in the White Paper on building more homes across the range of tenures, will be upheld. Supporting new methods of delivery such as Build to Rent and off-site construction are also emerging and exciting sectors that will expand the pace of housing delivery.”
The industry will be sad to lose a minister who demonstrated a rare enthusiasm for listening and responding to the housebuilding sector. “We’d like to thank Gavin Barwell for the work he has done as housing minister, we appreciated his willingness to listen and work with the sector,” said Terrie Alafat CBE said. “That kind of approach is the only way we will be able to address the country’s housing challenges and build the genuinely affordable homes that we so desperately need.”
Hastoe Group Chief Executive Sue Chalkley added, “I am very sorry that we have lost our Housing Minister Gavin Barwell; he listened, understood and had good plans for people who need homes. We hope that whoever takes on this portfolio will bring the same level of energy, passion and thoughtfulness to this challenging brief and that rural communities, one fifth of our population, will be an integral part of the housing strategy.”
Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy, and acting CEO, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said, “Gavin Barwell led the Government’s work on the first housing document in years that didn’t just pull apart the planning system, and which recognised that developers were simply not delivering the houses local communities need. Mr Barwell’s acumen and diligence will be missed at DCLG, but will influence Number 10. We hope his successor as housing minister builds on the housing white paper and focuses on prioritising genuinely affordable housing while offering greater protection for the countryside.”