No seat at the table…?

Vincenzo Rampulla, Public Affairs Officer, NLA

We now know that Grant Shapps MP has kept his ministerial portfolio and is now the Government’s new Housing Minister. Here at NLA Towers we’re glad that after many years of shadowing the housing portfolio, Grant has been given the opportunity to take his experience into Government.

Grant has always had warm words for the NLA and the sector as a whole. It was clear last year, at our Conservative Party conference reception, he thought that regulation was a ‘blunt instrument for getting results’ in the private-rented sector and he openly called for local authorities to ‘work with landlords’ as supposed to simply regulating them.

Grant Shapps MP, speaking at the NLA reception at Conservative Party Conference 2009

The last year has seen a change in direction in Government to a more regulatory-focused housing policy in the PRS and we’ll be carefully watching to see whether this new Government marks a clear watershed to a more balanced and supportive role for central and local government in this area of housing policy.

But housing did not come up in the General Election campaign and as we showed during the campaign the Conservative Party’s manifesto shied away from mentioning the PRS explicitly. That means we’ll be looking for a clear vision from the new Ministers at CLG about where they want to take housing policy.

An ominous indication of how important housing might be to the new Government (who, admittedly, does have a lot of important issues to tackle from the get go!) is that the Housing Minister will not now be attending Cabinet.

Since Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP became Minster of State for Housing and Planning in June 2007 the minister in charge of housing policy has attended Cabinet, with the importance this has implied (although this has not necessarily equated, in reality, to successful policy making).

We hope this perceived demotion in the pecking order is only due to limited physical space around the famous table at the Number Ten love-in.

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