What does the reshuffle mean for housing associations?

Sarauniya Shehu, 23 September 2021

Last week, the Prime Minister undertook his first cabinet reshuffle since the 2019 general election. We saw a lot more changes than political commentators had expected. A move that suggests Boris Johnson is forming a Cabinet he feels will secure him the next election.

The biggest change of course for the NHF and our members was the removal of Robert Jenrick MP as Housing Secretary. Many were expecting he would move into another Cabinet post, potentially a promotion due to his loyalty, but this was not the case. We have worked collaboratively with Jenrick over the last few years and our Chief Executive Kate Henderson took to Twitter to publicly thank him for his service to housing.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has a new name and Secretary of State

MHCLG will now be known as the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), with Michael Gove MP appointed as the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Secretary of State, Michael Gove MP has moved from his previous role as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Gove will be taking on the usual housing brief along with the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. Gove will retain responsibility for relations with the UK’s devolved administrations.

The Housing Secretary role is ordinarily considered a more junior position in Cabinet. However, with the building safety and planning bills looming, the Prime Minister is demonstrating how serious these areas are to the government by appointing a senior politician like Gove.

Neil O’Brien, the Prime Minister’s adviser on levelling up, is now a Minister at DLUHC, and Kemi Badenoch also joins the department as a Minister. The full list of both O’Brien and Badenoch’s responsibilities have yet to be published.

Gove has some experience of housing policy and has previously spoken supportively of affordable housing. He was shadow housing minister from 2005–2007 and expressed concerns in an Inside Housing interview about the impact the extension of Right to Buy to housing associations would have on the availability of social housing stock. In his 2016 bid to become Prime Minister, Gove pledged to build hundreds of thousands of private and social rented homes a year. We have written to Gove to congratulate him on his appointment and look forward to working with him and building a positive and collaborative relationship.

We welcome the news of continuity in the ministerial housing team and we look forward to continuing to work with Christopher Pincher MP, Minister of State for Housing, Eddie Hughes MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (DLUHC) and Lord Greenhalgh, Building Safety and Communities Minister.

You can read more about the new Cabinet and ministerial appointments and if you have any questions about what the reshuffle means for your housing association, please get in touch.