New housing minister urged to make inroads on white paper promises

by Gary Whittaker

The new housing and planning minister will have little time to settle into his role, with pressure coming immediately for the newcomer to the cabinet to make good on the government's promise to provide hundreds of thousands of new homes nationwide. 
 
Alok Sharma, the MP for Reading West and a former junior minister in the Foreign Office, takes over the housing position from previous minister Gavin Barwell, who was one of the many shock losers from the Conservative party in the snap election. Mr Barwell lost his seat in Croydon Central to Labour on June 8th, and the Conservatives had to be quick to name his replacement.
 
Mr Sharma takes over the role at a crucial time, with the government having promised to build as many as a million homes between now and 2020. Along with a number of other promises made in the last few months, the new housing minister has been urged to start delivering on the housing white paper sooner rather than later. 
 
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) said there were a number of strong proposals that were made in the white paper, but said it's vital that the new minister hits the ground running and implements as many of these as possible. 
 
FMB chief executive Brian Berry added that Mr Sharma takes on the role at a "crucial juncture".
 
"Vital to this will be ensuring that the recommendations within the 2017 Housing white paper, that aim to diversify the supply of new homes and revitalise the SME house building sector, are delivered in full. 
 
“The previous housing minister Gavin Barwell deserves credit for his work in pushing forward a wide range of reforms, including those designed to tackle some of the barriers to growth faced by smaller scale builders, and we hope that Sharma can build on this legacy," he added. 
 
The FMB has also said that it's vital the government does not drop other commitments it has made, including things like allowing local authorities to have a more active role in planning, as a result of the hung parliament. 
 
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15-June-17General Lettings News