The Chancellor and Home Secretary have stayed in place, but who’s new in Theresa May’s Government?
With the previous Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, losing his seat in June’s election there was an important vacancy at the Department for Communities & Local Government.
That position was filled after a couple of days of patient waiting and wondering.
The new Minister of State for Housing and Planning is Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West and previously Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Mr Sharma is a qualified chartered accountant, who trained with Deloitte Haskins & Sells in Manchester before moving into a corporate finance advisory role with Nikko Securities. Subsequently he went on to work as Director of Corporate Finance at Swedish bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken.
Whether he comes up with new policy or not he will start with a lot on his ministerial plate. Already in the pipeline from before the election are a number of policies:
- Letting fees ban
- Consultation on Client Money Protection
- Extension of mandatory HMO licensing
- “Promotion” of Longer Term Tenancies
- Rent-a-room relief consultation
- Consultation on Sub-letting (with landlord permission)
- Housing & Planning Act measures on rogue landlords
- A new abandonment procedure and electrical safety standards.
In his 12 years as an MP he has not had much to do with housing, so only time will tell if he will continue the positive working relationship his predecessor enjoyed with many in the sector.
Chief of Staff
It is not all doom and gloom for Gavin Barwell however. Having lost his seat at the election, the former Housing Minister was quickly appointed as Theresa May’s Chief of Staff.
During his ministerial tenure Mr Barwell was generally seen to have a decent grasp of housing and the importance of the PRS – having opposed borough-wide licensing in his constituency of Croydon.
As he takes over the running of the Prime Minister’s office we’ll be encouraging him to continue to support the PRS.
Secretary of State for Work & Pensions
Former Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke, MP for Hertfordshire South West, has been bumped up to the Work & Pensions lead role.
He will now have the unenviable task of overseeing the nationwide roll-out of Universal Credit which has been heavily criticised by most stakeholders, the NLA included.
Another former Housing Minister has been brought back into a position to affect the PRS. Brandon Lewis, who held the post from 2014 until 2016, changes jobs at the Home Office to take on the Immigration Minister role.
Mr Lewis oversaw the restriction of borough-wide selective licensing, and we’ll be pushing for him to make similarly bold changes to the Home Office’s Right-to-Rent policy.
Philip Hammond has stayed put as Chancellor, but two new faces have joined his team at HM Treasury.
Elizabeth Truss, the former Justice Secretary and Cheese enthusiast, becomes Hammond’s deputy as Chief Secretary to the Treasury while Mel Stride MP takes over as Financial Secretary to the Treasury, following his predecessor Jane Ellison’s loss at the election.
This means two new faces at the Treasury that need to be lobbied on the damage that Section 24/the ‘Tenant Tax’ will inflict on the housing sector.