15 Jun 2017
I have learned a lot from the General Election, like don’t place bets.
My daughter Georgina was utterly stunned to learn that the Cabinet excludes the housing minister yet sport and media both feature under the ‘culture’ umbrella.
She described it as ‘bare peak’ which for those of you whose first language is English means ‘very bad’.
My son said: “Dad, someone needs to do something.”
The fact is, I have very clever kids who have no hope of buying a home without help from the ‘Bank of Dad’.
Then we have tenants who are treated badly by a small minority of agents.
We have Shelter and Generation Rent at odds with the industry when we should be working together as SAFEagent showed was possible.
We have the Government launching an assault on the landlords who provide the private rented sector with much-needed homes and we have an industry providing an immense service to tenants and yet agents’ very existence is threatened by the proposed ban on charging for doing so.
It seems incredible to me that whilst housing is acknowledged by all factions as being at crisis point, the post of housing minister has been side-lined and that there is no cohesive voice providing proper high-level representation.
Media and sport, transport, women’s rights and equality are important, as are the myriad of business roles, but how can housing be considered a lesser issue when it is universally acknowledged as being one of the biggest issues for all?
We all need somewhere decent to live.
My hope is that everyone involved in our industry, its supporters, its detractors, tenants, landlords, industry suppliers, regulators and observers, agree that housing is too important to be an after-thought.
Housing for all deserves the same status as other key issues and representation at Cabinet level is fundamental if Government promises are to be taken seriously.
The sheer number of housing ministers there has been illustrates that it is a role for transient opportunists or a position offered to placate the ambitious.
Becoming housing minister should be an ambition, not stasis. Remember also, a cabinet minister earns a lot more than a standard minister – so there is a value that the Government places upon the role, which is telling.
I believe we all have an opportunity to demand that housing is made a priority as it’s a basic human right. For once, friends and foe can join forces at a time of political uncertainty to shape the way Government treats stakeholders and work together to ensure a fairer system.
We can debate the policies, we can argue the detail, but whichever side you support, you can’t debate the importance of housing.
Let’s be honest – more people are affected by housing than they are by sport, media or transport. On this point my daughter is right, just don’t tell her. It’s hard enough as it is.
So let’s get together and all campaign to have proper representation for housing to be at the Cabinet level where it belongs.
I sincerely believe that all sides of the debate could achieve this if we work together.
Housing is too important to be defeated by factions divided in pursuit of separate agendas. Get housing back in at the top table and support the very people who need homes.
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