Yesterday, Michael Gove was named as the new Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government, replacing incumbent Robert Jenrick after two years in the role.
Reactions from across the housing sector have been coming in thick and fast, with many welcoming the appointment, though warning that the incoming secretary will have to deliver on some serious issues if he is to make his tenure a success.
From shadow ministers to charities and housing associations, here’s what the sector had to say.
Local Government Association
The Local Government Association (LGA) thanked Robert Jenrick for his support during the pandemic, adding that it looks forward to working with the incoming secretary.
James Jamieson, chair of the Local Government Association, said: “This has been an incredibly difficult period for councils and communities, and we thank Robert Jenrick for the support he has given to local government during the pandemic. We wish him all the best in the future.
“The COVID crisis has shown what can be achieved when government empowers councils to innovate and create new services locally.
“We look forward to working with Michael Gove as our new Secretary of State at MHCLG to build on this and ensure councils are backed with the resources and freedoms they need to build back local from the pandemic, level up communities, and deliver more for our residents and communities.”
Shadow Housing Secretary
Shadow Housing Secretary Lucy Powell said she “looks forward to being his opposition” and hopes the two of them can take a cross-party approach to end the cladding scandal.
On Twitter, Powell said: “Look forward to being his oppo, and willing to work cross-party to #EndOurCladdingScandal end #BuildingSafetyCrisis and get justice for leaseholders, amongst many other things in the in-tray.”
National Housing Federation
The National Housing Federation (NHF) welcomed Gove’s appointment, highlighting the “key challenges and opportunities” he will have to address as Housing Secretary.
In a statement on Twitter, the NHF said: “Congratulations @michaelgove on your appointment as Housing Secretary. We look forward to working with you and your team on the key challenges and opportunities facing the housing association sector: building safety, sustainability; housing supply and quality.”
Homeless Link, the national membership charity for frontline homelessness organisations, said it hopes to work with Gove to achieve the government’s target of ending rough sleeping by 2024.
Rick Henderson, CEO at Homeless Link, said: “We would like to warmly welcome Michael Gove to the role of Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
“The appointment comes as we find ourselves at a crossroads in the goal of ending rough sleeping.
“After the great success of Everyone In, it is worrying that many of our members are reporting rising numbers of people sleeping on the streets, many for the first time.
“The coming spending review represents a chance to properly invest in the sector through a simplified, multi-year fundingprogramme, whilst looking to the longer-term solutions, like Housing First, which we know are effective in ending homelessness for good.
“Homeless Link and our members support the government’s target to end rough sleeping by 2024.
“To achieve this we need to be ambitious and innovative, working across departments to change the system.
“We look forward to working alongside Michael Gove to make sure this target becomes reality.”
National Residential Landlords Association
In a brief statement, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) said it hopes Gove can help solve the supply crisis currently gripping the sector.
NRLA CEO Ben Beadle said: “We welcome Michael Gove to his new position and look forward to working with him to ensure the rental market works for responsible landlords and tenants alike.
“Key to this will be addressing the supply crisis in the sector by developing pro-growth policies that recognise the vital contribution it makes to housing millions of people across the country.”
CPRE, The Countryside Charity
CPRE said it expects Gove to support local communities and the environment.
CPRE CEO Crispin Truman said: “We welcome Michael Gove as the new housing secretary at this watershed moment for planning.
“With his past experience as environment secretary, we hope and expect him to champion local communities, nature, and climate as his department drafts the new Planning Bill.
“That means securing the voice of local people in planning decisions, holding developers to affordable housing targets, ending land banking, and protecting our local green spaces and countryside by reusing previously developed land first.”
Royal Town Planning Institute
The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) said it looks forward to working with the incoming secretary on a number of “hugely important issues”.
Victoria Hills, chief executive of the RTPI, said: “The RTPI would like to thank Robert Jenrick for his efforts and engagement during his time in office.
“We would also like to welcome Michael Gove in his new role as secretary of state for housing, communities and local government.
“The planning profession eagerly awaits details of reforms that will be introduced and stands ready to support Mr Gove so that he can hit the ground running on such a significant policy issue.
“Planners are vital in designing healthy and sustainable communities fit to face the challenges of the future and could play an instrumental role in helping to level up the entire country and deliver on net zero commitments.
“The institute looks forward to working with Mr Gove on these hugely important issues.”
Chartered Institute of Building
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) said it looks forward to working with the new Secretary of State to ensure the construction industry’s priorities are well understood and supported, particularly as the Building Safety Bill progresses in Parliament.
Eddie Tuttle, director of Policy, External Affairs, and Research at CIOB, said: “The construction sector will be one of the most vital sectors to the UK Government’s housing plans if it is to successfully build back better and level up.
“We would like to see quality as a priority when it comes to the development of all homes – new and retrofitted – alongside progress on the New Homes Ombudsman which the government announced plans for nearly three years ago in October 2018.
“It is also vital that the industry receives clarity on the Planning Bill, and its relationship with the Fire Safety Act and Building Safety Bill; particularly in relation to the government’s position on permitted development rights and ensuring they have strict quality controls should they press ahead as a key mechanism for housing delivery.
“We look forward to working with the new Secretary of State to make progress on the big issues facing our industry.
“I am confident, though, that CIOB and our sister professional bodies, with which we work closely to develop consistent and robust positions to support the construction community, can work with the Secretary to deliver on the priorities for the construction industry.”
The appointment of Gove has been welcomed by housing provider Stonewater, particularly in relation to his additional responsibility for levelling up and progressing the government’s agenda.
Chief Executive Nicholas Harris said: “With housing being such a critical part of the Government’s levelling up agenda, it’s imperative to have continuity of focus on the promise to ‘Build Back Better’ and the implementation of the social housing white paper.
“Appointing Mr Gove, who is one of the more experienced members of the cabinet and held the shadow role more than a decade ago, should underline the Government’s ongoing commitment to placing housing as a priority.
“The pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of everyone having access to a safe, secure, affordable home – and the urgent need to build more high-quality affordable homes to tackle the housing crisis. Continuing investment in the sector will also support jobs in the construction industry and aid the nation’s post-pandemic economic and social recovery.
“We look forward to working with Mr Gove to ensure the sector’s expert voice is able to support the government in addressing the myriad of challenges – including planning reform, building safety, net zero targets and long-term investment – where a cohesive approach is so central to finding effective solutions.”
Image: Jakub Junek/Shutterstock
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