Dominic Raab has been promoted to Brexit Secretary following David Davis’ dramatic resignation this morning, leaving the post of Housing Minister vacant.
The pro-leave politician has been in the role for just over six months. Once an outside bet for future leader of the Conservative Party, his time in the position was always likely to be short.
The housebuilding industry must welcome its fifth Housing Minister in three years when Raab’s replacement is announced.
Ishaan Malhi, CEO and founder of Trussle, said, “Two months ago, I was disappointed to see yet another reshuffle in the government’s Housing Ministry and now today we learn that the current Housing Minister has moved on from the post after just six months.
“I wish I could say I was surprised by the news but sadly this pattern has become all too predictable and once again we will have to listen to the pledges of another person in the job, the fourth since Theresa May took office.”
This will deliver a double whammy of uncertainty for housebuilders, who need continuity and political certainty to build on.
Nick Sanderson, CEO, Audley Group said, “Given the historically short tenure of housing ministers over the last few years – eight in the role since 2010 alone – Raab’s replacement needs to hit the ground running and urgently confirm the priorities if we are to make any progress before the next change of post.”
Davis quit the role of Brexit Secretary this morning, announcing that he couldn’t push through the Prime Minister’s blueprint for a ‘soft Brexit’, which he felt was a betrayal of the referendum result.
Rumours of who would take Davis’ spot have been bubbling since he announced his resignation, with Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg both in the running. Raab’s name didn’t appear in the mix, and his appointment may come as something of a surprise.
However, named as New Comer of the Year by Spectator magazine in 2011, few expected him to stay in the role of Housing Minister for long. Raab has little to show for his short time in the role; the sector deal announced last week may be the extent of his legacy.
Although Theresa May clearly has other things on her mind, the industry is left hoping that she makes a considered, and perhaps slightly more long-term appointment for Raab’s replacement as soon as possible.
Greg Hill, Deputy Chief Executive at Hill, concluded, “Over the last 20 years we have seen no less than 17 housing ministers with each spending an average of just 16 months in the position. If we are to truly stimulate housebuilding then it is vital that the government takes a longer term approach to the sector’s leadership – it is simply not possible to have a coherent policy when a merry-go-round of ministers must routinely pick up the pieces of their predecessor and start afresh.
“With Brexit less than a year away, it’s clear less of a focus is being placed on other policies such as housing, yet we still lack clarity on immigration and the status of European workers living in the UK. To deliver large schemes quickly you need a strong and diverse workforce, but uncertainty around their right to remain means that we cannot guarantee the labour and resource required to build them. Lessons from the past show us that plugging the gap is no easy fix and it takes years to replace a deficit of skilled workers, so we must act quickly to attract and retain our talent, and ensure that this decline in housing starts doesn’t prevail.”