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Boris Johnson under fire as reshuffle sacking of Esther McVey puts Tories on tenth housing minister in a decade

3 min read

Boris Johnson has been accused of continuing the “revolving door” of housing ministers after sacking the Conservatives’ ninth person in the job in a decade - despite the UK’s ongoing homes crisis.

Esther McVey said she was “very sorry to be relieved of my duties” after being ousted from her role as minister of state for housing and planning after less than a year in post.

Last July she became the ninth housing minister to take up the job since 2010 - and the third person to take on the job in just two years.

Since 2010, the job has now been held by Grant Shapps, Mark Prisk, Kris Hopkins, Brandon Lewis, Gavin Barwell, Alok Sharma, Dominic Raab, Kit Malthouse and Ms McVey.

In a tweet confirming her exit, Ms McVey said: “I’m very sorry to be relieved of my duties as Housing Minister.”

And she added: “I wish my successor the very best and every success. I’m very grateful to the Prime Minister for having given me the opportunity to serve in his government and he will continue to have my support from the back benches.”

But the move drew anger from opposition parties, housing campaigners and businesses.

Liberal Democrat housing spokesperson Tim Farron told PoliticsHome that Britain’s housing supply was “in crisis”.

He added: “Levels of homelessness are skyrocketing, there is a complete lack of affordable housing, and the tragedy of Grenfell remains at the forefront of people’s minds.

“The revolving door at the Ministry of Housing means Tory Ministers have repeatedly failed to get a grip on these issues. The new Housing Minister must act urgently to ensure adequate safe and secure accommodation is made available right across the country.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “A revolving door of housing ministers have not taken the time to get to grips with the long-term problems fuelling the housing emergency. 

And she warned: “Failing to invest in social homes over several decades has super-charged this crisis, and politicians have a duty to tackle the high levels of homelessness and bad housing in this country right now.

“We need the new housing minister to take the time to really help people on lower incomes. It is vital that the upcoming Budget is used to invest in a new generation of social housing, to provide the genuinely affordable homes we so desperately need."

The move was also condemned by parts of the property industry.

Félicie Krikler, director at the London-based Assael Architecture firm said: “There is a total incompatibility between the political cycles and the long-term aspects of housing, and appointing the tenth housing minister in the last ten years makes a complete mockery of the role.”

She added: “The industry needs stability to make progress on the housing front and bring forward policies that clarify questions over design, quality and delivery methods concerning the homes we build.”

And Nick Sanderson of the Audley property group said: “It’s now 10 in 10 for Housing Ministers. 10 changes in 10 years, and 19 in 20. Hardly surprising that short-termism remains the order of the day.”

Ms McVey’s departure from the Cabinet-attending role comes despite the Conservative manifesto promising the Government would build “at least a million new homes” during the current Parliament - a rate of 200,000 new homes a year.

According to the latest Ministry of Housing statistics, 177,980 new homes were completed between September 2018 and the same month in 2019.

Building work started on 157,550 homes during the same period - 19 percent below the sector’s 2007 peak before the global financial crisis

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