With a series of high-profile resignations from Theresa May’s Cabinet at the start of this week, the housing ministry has received its eighth new minister in eight years. With Dominic Raab, a vocal leave campaigner, being promoted to Brexit Secretary, he has become the shortest serving Housing Minister since 2001, with just 181 days in the role.
Raab’s replacement, Kit Malthouse, a former minister in the Department of Work and Pensions will be the fifteenth housing minister in the last 20 years. Malthouse is a former Deputy Mayor of London who served under Boris Johnson between 2008 and 2012, where he was in charge of policing and subsequently business. He was elected as Member of Parliament for North West Hampshire in the 2015 General Election and became part of Theresa May’s Government during the reshuffle in January 2018.
Before entering national politics, Malthouse was elected as a local councillor for St George’s ward on Westminster City Council in 1998. During boundary changes in 2002, he was re-elected to the Council to represent Warwick ward. He served as the Conservative Group Chief Whip and was Chairman of the Social Services Committee and elected as Deputy Leader of the Council in 2000, becoming the Cabinet Member for Finance. He stood down from the Council in 2006.
In 2008, Malthouse was successfully elected to the London Assembly to represent the West Central seat, which covers Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham. Taking up the previously mentioned Deputy Mayor role under Boris Johnson.
In 2017, when debating the Finance Bill, Malthouse spoke in favour of house building as a means of energising the housing sector, he stated “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.”
With Theresa May’s Government claiming housing as a top priority it is understandably frustrating for the industry to see another change in minister.
Melanie Leech, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, was quoted as saying: “The housing sector will be frustrated with yet one more housing minister, but there are extenuating circumstances and the national interest must come first. However, if the government is to meet its aspirations of delivering 300,000 new homes each year, this revolving door of housing ministers must stop.”
David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, added: "This is the eighth housing minister in eight years. Theresa May has made it her personal mission to fix the housing crisis and if the prime minister is serious about this, she now needs to make sure Mr Malthouse actually has enough time to get to grips with the real scale of the problem and make meaningful change.”