I must be honest – I hadn’t. But then, I was not aware of Alok Sharma, either. To clarify, Dominic Raab will be the 16th Housing Minister since 1997 and was given the role of Housing Minister in the most recent Cabinet re-shuffle.
Mr. Sharma seemed to have little time to achieve anything, though he had started his ‘big conversations’ to obtain the views of 1,000 social tenants. He seemed to give no thought to the private rented sector, so may not be a great loss. Will Dominic Raab be given enough time to achieve a result for private landlords and tenants? Will he do any better than his 15 predecessors?
Let’s look at Dominic Raab. He was elected as MP for Esher and Walton in 2010. Prior to the re-shuffle, he had held the post of Minister of State for Courts and Justice from June 2017. As a former Solicitor, this would seem to have been an ideal post for him, but 6 months has hardly given him the opportunity to gain any impressive results there, though perhaps his abilities shone through as indicating a future star for the Ministry of Housing?
In the 2011 census, his constituency had only 13.7 per cent of the population living in the private rented sector so he may not have a clear idea of the sector and of how much it is needed to house families, as well as the single person, often not a priority for social housing. However, since 2011, there have been massive property price rises in Surrey; it is probable that his concerns may therefore have been sharpened by ‘Generation Rent’ issues, with children staying longer at the parental home and struggling to raise a sufficient deposit to get them on the property ladder.
In the same re-shuffle, the Department of Communities and Local Government was re-named the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The Mayor of London, Sajid Javid, believes that the change of name reflects the Governments ‘renewed focus to deliver more homes’ – obviously meaning building more.
Why is there this concerted effort to ignore the private rented sector? It is a readymade supplier, but private landlords need to feel confident of the support of Government if eviction is needed. Sadly, increasing numbers of landlords do not.
Mr. Raab has pledged his commitment to the 5 pledges made by the Conservative Government. How many of these apply to the private sector?
- 44 billion pledged to build 300,000 new homes. Are these to buy? Are they social housing? Is there any thought of the private sector? Doesn’t seem so.
- 130,000 households have been helped with deposits with Help to Buy. Help for more to enter the property-owning democracy.
- Investing over £1 billion by 2020 under the Homeless Reduction Act.
- Establishing a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping initiative with the ultimate aim of ending homelessness by 2020. Both laudable intentions, mirroring as they do Andy Burnham’s plans as Mayor of Manchester, but there is no mention of that major provider of housing, the private rented sector.
- Only one of the pledges directly refers to the private rented sector, and that is that a draft bill has been published, which says that letting fees will be banned, to make renting fairer and easier for tenants.
If Dominic Raab is to prove his worth as Minister of Housing, he needs to make use of all the means at his disposal to really deal with housing issues. Learn the lesson quickly, Mr. Raab – you cannot pretend that the private sector does not exist – they are major providers of accommodation.
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon