Is it just me or is the new housing minister rather quiet! Compared to London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who often likes to wade in with his housing views and I applaud him for it, the newly appointed housing and planning minister, Alok Sharma (appointed in June) seems to be keeping a low profile.
The Guardian newspaper pointed out here that chartered accountant, Sharma has no background in housing. However, he was the PM’s infrastructure envoy to India – so he must know quite a lot about construction. Perhaps more importantly, on his appointment he promised to: “build the homes Britain needs.”
So, what will he do? When you consider that 80% of millennials say wages are not keeping up with property prices, according to recent CBRE research – and many of us are just so far away from home ownership. How will he protect the industry, make planning easier and begin to implement the long-awaited Housing White Paper? The paper, overseen by outgoing housing minister Gavin Barwell, seemed to conclude that ‘ownership for all’ was out of the question and that renting by choice is actually in. A bow down to the Build to Rent market perhaps? We also know that Sharma is very much on board for next month’s Shared Ownership Week – which builds awareness of the shared ownership route to owning your own home, across the UK.
At Oracle Group, we are waiting with anticipation to hear how housing plans have moved on when Sharma delivers his first major public address in his new role, at Property Week’s RESI conference from 13th September. At the conference, held in Wales, Sharma’s keynote speech is set to provide the first real insight into the housing agenda since the General Election and more importantly reveal the future of the Housing White Paper. What will he bring to the industry – let’s watch this space!
By Vicki O’Hare