It shouldn’t have escaped anyone’s attention that the Prime Minister recently made his most comprehensive reshuffle to date, just 10 months before Polling Day. Barring any unexpected ‘events’, it’s clear this is the team that he wants to remain in place until May and convince the public to give the Conservatives a majority at the polls.
With this in mind, the promotion of Brandon Lewis to Minister of State for Housing and Planning, signifies a serious and welcome elevation for housing in current government thinking.
Mr Lewis has been promoted from his previous role as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (wonderfully abbreviated to PUSS). He now combines the roles of former housing minister Kris Hopkins and planning Minister, Nick Boles, which have been separate roles since 2009. The DCLG has said housing and planning were being combined as they are ‘two sides of the same coin’. With Labour’s plans for the PRS, it is obvious that housing will be a massive battleground over the next few months, and the NLA welcomes this move by the Government.
At the same time the outgoing housing minister, Kris Hopkins, continues to ride the ministerial roundabout – taking on responsibility for local government and homelessness.
Whilst housing is an issue for which Government seemingly recognise the need to get on the front foot, it’s all change at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. One of the most passionate advocates of green policy in the coalition government, Gregory Barker, has resigned as Energy and Climate Change Minister. He is also to stand down from Parliament at the next election.
Despite their determination to “get rid of green crap” there is reason to be mildly optimistic of continued Government support for the Green Deal. Responsibility for the project has been delegated to a junior minister in comparison, Amber Rudd, the new department’s new PUSS. However, she has previously spoken highly of the project prior to its launch, and is known to be supportive of the PRS as a whole. It can only be hoped that the PUSS will put her boot to good use by kick-starting the much maligned project into life.
Time will tell…