Dominic Raab stepped into his new role as Minister of State for Housing at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 9 January during the Prime Minister's latest cabinet reshuffle. He previously held office at the Ministry of Justice as Minister of State for Courts and Justice.
Raab, considered one of the rising stars of the Conservative Party, replaces Alok Sharma who held the position for just seven months, during which he was tasked with research for the Social Housing Green Paper. Unfortunately, Sharma was not able to complete the project during his time in the role. However, the report is due to be finalised and published this spring. Sharma has subsequently been made the new Employment Minister.
Raab was first elected as Member of Parliament representing the low-growth, green belt constituency of Esher and Walton in 2010; a safe Conservative seat since its creation in 1997. Before entering Parliament, Raab worked as a business lawyer at the City law firm Linklaters specialising in project finance, international litigation and competition law.
Between 2000 and 2006, Raab joined the civil service at the Foreign Office. He covered a range of briefs, including heading a British Embassy team at The Hague, which was dedicated to bringing war criminals to justice. From 2006 until his election as a Member of Parliament, Dominic Raab worked as Chief of Staff to Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, and to Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Grieve.
Although planning has been dropped from the title, Raab will take responsibility for planning alongside housing with his brief to cover:
- Supporting the Housing Secretary on housing supply policy and delivery
- Housing financing streamsHome ownership policy
- Planning policy and casework oversightHomes England sponsorship and performance
- Building safety and regulations (including government response to the Hackitt review)
- Land assembly and release, and Public Sector Land and Digital Land
- ‘Help to Buy’
- Quality and design
- Grenfell recovery programme
- Social Housing Green Paper.
Since his election, Raab has not been particularly active when it comes to housing debates in parliament but has been a vocal opponent to building on the green belt. In early 2017, he stated that he was amongst the MPs that lobbied the government, as it created its Housing White Paper, against green belt building. He went on to say that as the government endeavours to build more affordable housing it must ensure that green belt protections remain intact.
During the drafting of the NPPF 45 Tory and Lib Dem MPs , including Raab, wrote an open letter to the government to express their concerns. This open letter requested that the government carefully considered the new rules to ensure a continued commitment to genuine sustainable development that prioritises quality of life over economic interests. The 45 MPs also called for a commitment to build on brown-field sites before any consideration is given to the development of green belt areas.
Raab’s appointment to the position of Housing Minister has been seen as a contentious appointment by some due to his lack of experience in housing and Local Government alongside his commitment to green belt protections.