Friday, 16 June 2017

Will Britain ever build enough homes? More uncertainty as UK needs its FIFTEENTH housing minister since 2000 - after Gavin Barwell is voted out

By Myra Butterworth

  • Gavin Barwell loses his Conservative seat in Croydon Central to Labour 
  • Plans to build more homes expected to be delayed as the new housing minister gets to grips with the property agenda

Concerns abound over the future of Britain's homebuilding as Britain faces enlisting a new housing minister - the fifteenth since 2000 - after voters ditched Gavin Barwell in the General Election.
Housing minister Mr Barwell lost his Croydon Central seat after getting just 24,221 votes compared to Labour's 29,873.

It means the country's housebuilding policy faces further delays, as a new housing minister is appointed and gets to grips with challenges in the property market.
Mr Barwell was only appointed last year and published a housing white paper earlier this year

Housing experts warned that transactions in the property market may stay 'anaesthetised' as Britain faces getting a new housing minister.

Russell Quirk, the chief executive of estate agent eMoov, said: 'As we awake today to the opposite of a strong and stable administration, but to a rather unexpected hung parliament, I fear that the property market's post-election return to normality that I'd hoped for may be rather further away still.

'Political instability breeds procrastination on the part of homebuyers and sellers and for over a year now we have seen the effects of that on volumes, if not so much prices, as a consequence of the EU vote and then the snap general election.

'So while the UK voter may understandably develop electoral fatigue, transactions in the property market may also stay somewhat anaesthetised until it's re-awoken by something more politically and economically decisive than we have seen over the past 24 hours.'

He added: 'I suspect that the housing brief will take a back seat now, despite politicians' promises in recent weeks, given the combined weight of negotiating Brexit, stabilising our economy, button-holing political support across the aisle on every vote and, inevitably, campaigning again for the next poll.'

As housing minister since last year, Gavin Barwell was at the helm for a housing white paper, which had been expected to lay out bold plans to build more homes for Britain but was criticised for being a damp squib.

However, industry experts praised Mr Barwell himself for his determination in the role as housing minister.

Buying expert Henry Pryor said: 'If we could build homes like the Governments of all political persuasions can appoint new housing ministers then we wouldn't have a housing crisis.

'Gavin Barwell was, to his credit one of the most proactive and successful.He faced up to the vested interest groups, challenged house builders to actually build, and told letting agents to their faces that he was going to scrap tenant fees. I for one will miss his determination to get things done.'

The result in Mr Barwell's constituency saw him lose his seat to Labour's Sarah Jones
North London estate agent and former RICs boss, Jeremy Leaf, said: 'A hung parliament will result in an extended period of uncertainty with decision-making kicked into the long grass.

'Theresa May is correct - we need a period of stability as that will quash uncertainty which is bad for the housing market - but it is not clear at the moment whether she can deliver it. Stability is crucial in enabling people to make big decisions such as buying and selling property.'

Mr Barwell was only appointed minister of state for housing and planning last year.
During his tenure he published a housing white paper that aimed to fix the 'broken housing market' and boost housebuilding.

The paper examined issues such as cutting red tape on planning and encouraging smaller builders.

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