This week’s reshuffle saw Alok Sharma moved from his post as Housing Minister to make way for Dominic Raab, a rising star within the Conservative Party and tipped by some to be a future Party leader. Here’s the lowdown on him, and what his appointment means for the housing sector.
Who is he?
Dominic Raab has been the MP for Esher and Walton in Surrey since 2010. Prior to the reshuffle, he held the role of Justice Minister, where he fought against giving prisoners the right to vote, and proposed amendments to the Immigration Bill aimed at deporting prisoners serving more than a year’s sentence.
Prior to his election, Raab was Chief of Staff to both David Davis and Dominic Grieve in their respective roles as Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Justice Secretary.
Previous comments on housing
Raab’s previous comments on housing have been relatively limited. Before his time as an MP, he claimed that open-door immigration was the first cause of the housing crisis.
A year after his election, he spoke out in favour of allowing communities to determine the balance of development in their local area, whilst also supporting a reduction in bureaucracy to assist councils with regards to the planning process.
His most significant contributions to the housing debate came in 2012, when he claimed that his lobbying during the development of the Housing White paper helped ‘to retain existing green belt protections, and see off attempts to dilute them’.
How has the industry reacted?
Reaction from industry experts has been mixed, with many concerned at the lack of continuity – the average tenure for a Housing Minister since 1997 is just fourteen months.
Barry Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders welcomed Raab to the role, but expressed his disappointment that ‘once again we have a new housing minister who doesn’t really help build the continuity and greater certainty the sector needs’.
CEO of Cast, Mark Farmer, was pleased with the continuity given by Sajid Javid’s reappointment which will ‘ensure the links to last year’s Housing White Paper commitment remains’, but guarded against complacency by stating that ‘it is critical that Dominic Raab gets up to speed quickly with a series of interconnected construction and housing sector challenges’.
What does this mean for housing policy?
Raab takes over the role with housing at the forefront of the Government’s agenda – as demonstrated by Theresa May’s ‘personal commitment’ to the issue, and the expansion of Sajid Javid’s title to include the housing brief.
His new-found ministerial responsibilities will require a much broader view than those formulated from a constituency perspective. Given the location of his suburban Surrey constituency, expect him to protect the Green Belt and favour urban development where possible – in line with the promises given by Chancellor Philip Hammond in the Budget – but these views will be subject to flexibility if the political situation requires it.