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No, Minister.

By David Scane
28 July 2022

By David Scane

If you ever find yourself at a loose end one Christmas day, why not challenge your family to a game of ‘Name the Housing Minister’. How many of the 12 office holders over the past 12 years can you name in 2 minutes? Bonus points for remembering Esther McVey.  

Strangely, Waddingtons has yet to show any interest in marketing such a game, but it’s surely only a matter of time before it gets picked up. 

At this point, do spare a thought for poor old Dominic Raab. He must have thought his tenure as ‘shortest serving Housing Minister’ was safe with no one likely to break his 6-month record. Unfortunately for Raab, he didn’t count on the tenure of Stuart Andrew, whose resignation earlier this month smashed the record at an impressive 148 days in post. 

Andrew barely had time for the ink to dry on his new business cards before resigning from Government stating he could, ‘no longer defend the indefensible’, (something he decided he was actually capable of doing two days later when he accepted the role of Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice). 

In his place comes Marcus Jones MP, former Comptroller of the Household (Google it). 

It’s easy to make light of the high turnover in Housing Ministers since 2010, but there is a serious side to the matter. Housing is reportedly one of the Government’s main priorities. It forms a key tenet of the ‘Levelling Up Agenda’ and is a major driver of the UK’s economy. Yet time and again, the industry is presented with a new Minister, who often comes in cold and then moves on before properly establishing themselves in the role. They may tinker around the edges by proposing initiatives like street votes and make populist statements about brownfield first development, but ultimately, they are unlikely to be in post long enough to get to grips with how to solve the housing crisis. 

So, what is the solution? The role of Housing Minister does have a quasi-judicial role, so from that perspective someone needs to be holding the pen when decisions are made. Beyond that, perhaps we should just accept that the position of Housing Minister is only ever going to be a short-term gig, to be filled by people who will not be in post long enough to stamp their authority on the role nor to see the efforts of their labour come to fruition.

Marcus Jones may prove us all wrong and end up being a transformative Housing Minister, in post for a decent period and able to really get to grips with the issues. Only time will tell, but don’t bet against a new record being set very soon and a new name to add to your Christmas fun this year. 

Or maybe better to stick to Buckeroo instead. 

This article was originally published in Advocacy Local’s Planning and Politics Newsletter. To receive our fortnightly newsletter, subscribe here: