New Housing Minister Following Sunak Reshuffle

Yet another new housing minister has taken her seat at Whitehall in February 2023 - the 15th since the Conservatives came to power and the sixth in the past year.

Redditch MP Rachael MacLean is the new incumbent in the hot seat overseeing Britain's housing crisis.

And her supporters are hoping she will spend more time at the helm than her predecessors, who have held the office for an average of 10 months.

The most recent longest-serving Tory housing minister was Grant Shapps, who filled the role for two years and four months when the party came to power in 2010 under David Cameron and the Lib Dem alliance.

Marcus Jones spent the least time as housing minister - just two months between July and September 2022 as part of Boris Johnson's final fling as prime minister. Jones is now deputy chief whip.

MacLean reports to Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove.

Who is Rachael MacLean?

Rachael MacLean, aged 57,  is a former banker who switched roles in 2005 to set up a computer and software publishing company with her husband.

She was elected MP for Redditch, Worcestershire, in 2017. After holding jobs in transport, at the home office and as a justice minister, she has taken over the housing role from Lucy Frazer. Frazer sat in the housing chair for three months and moved to culture, media and sport.

The job switch was part of Prime minister Rishi Sunak's Cabinet reshuffle.

MacLean is married with three children.

She posted on Twitter about her promotion.

"Delighted to be appointed as Minister. Looking forward to a new challenge, tackling one of the defining issues the government faces. I start now!" she Tweeted.

Is switching ministers so soon a good choice?

Samuel Hughes, head of housing at the Centre for Policy Studies, a free market think tank, said: "We have had many good housing ministers in recent years, but there can be too much of a good thing.

"Choosing one excellent housing minister and then sticking with them would help a lot in delivering the sustained and systematic reform we need.

"Without those reforms, the housing shortage will continue to worsen, destroying the dream of homeownership for a generation of young people."

Another think-tank - the Institute for Government - agrees sticking with one minister would be better for the country.

"The minister has to get used to their new policy responsibilities, and the civil servants they work with have to adapt to their particular priorities and preferred ways of working," said a spokesman.

"Housing in particular has seen a huge amount of turnover in recent years, which will have had an inevitable effect on how the relevant departments have been able to deliver policy."

Making the housing market work

A government spokesperson said: "We are absolutely committed to making sure the housing market works for everyone.

"Increasing the number of genuinely affordable homes is central to our levelling up the mission, and since 2010 we have delivered over 620,000 affordable homes in England, including over 160,000 for social rent.

"The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will give communities power to bring forward the right homes in the right places and we're taking tough action against social housing landlords providing a poor service and have set our proposed rental reforms that will ensure a fair deal for renters."

Housing ministers since 2010

Housing is not the only government department to see a massive turnover in ministers since 2010. For example, 12 prison ministers and ten immigration ministers held office then. The most consistent minister is Nick Gibb, who has held the education job three times in five reshuffles.

MPs who have sat in the housing hot seat since May 2010 are:

  • Grant Shapps (2 years and four months)
  • Mark Prisk (1 year and one month)
  • Kris Hopkins (9 months)
  • Brandon Lewis (2 years)
  • Gavin Barwell (11 months)
  • Alok Sharma (7 months)
  • Dominic Raab (6 months)
  • Kit Malthouse (1 year)
  • Esther McVey (7 months)
  • Chris Pincher (2 years)
  • Stuart Andrew (5 months)
  • Marcus Jones (2 months)
  • Lee Rowley (7 weeks)
  • Lucy Frazer (3 months)
  • Rachel Maclean

What does the housing minister do?

It's probably unfair to say not a lot, but successive ministers have failed to deliver government promises for new homes for decades.

Everyone agrees housing is in crisis, whatever their political hue, but housing ministers still need to have the time, the vision, or both to solve the problems.

Sitting in the new minister's in-tray is a pile of policy documents waiting to go before Parliament.

They include the long-awaited Rent Reform Bill to revitalise old housing laws into a modern-day template for buy-to-let. The Bill is expected before Parliament this year.

Other work includes post-Grenfell building safety, abolishing leasehold home contracts and reforming archaic planning laws.

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