“Kit Malthouse is the 17th new housing minister for the UK since 2000 and the question is 'how he is going to get to grips with what many call our ‘broken’ housing market and actually make a difference?'
Malthouse’s first announcement as Housing Minister said little about his plans for the myriad of issues facing the property industry, such as the Tenants’ Fees Bill, reform of the buying and selling process or the suggestion of a single ombudsman for housing. With a lack of new homes being built, reform needed for the buying process and a long-standing issue of homelessness, the new Housing Minister will have a large number of issues on his plate which need to be fully understood before any policies are created.
Looking at his track record, Malthouse has limited experience of the property and housing market. The Government appears to have allowed its focus to shift away from housing in recent months as Brexit negotiations take centre stage. And whilst that may be understandable, there does need to be a longer term approach taken to fix the issues with home ownership throughout the UK. The hope is that Kit Malthouse will create a clear and coherent set of policies and take charge of this crucial role which has been treated as something of a turnstile appointment over the past decade.
As one of the areas with the highest house prices in the country, Cambridge and the surrounding region is in desperate need of affordable housing for the younger generation, many of whom see home ownership as a distant and unattainable dream. Similarly, as a town with increased polarisation when it comes to wealth, measures need to be introduced to provide social housing and tackle prevalent issues such as homelessness. Housebuilding targets have not been met by successive governments for decades and the market needs to provide the right homes in the right places, which people can genuinely afford. There are currently over 68,000 new homes in the pipeline within a 20 mile radius of Cambridge and whilst the city is providing above average numbers of new properties delivered, many of these are not within affordable price brackets. The spending power of employees of the some of the large international companies which have moved to the area have pushed out local or younger buyers and this needs to be addressed throughout the region. However, despite the challenges afoot, we would like to welcome Kit Malthouse to his new role and hope to see him tackle head on many of the issues which have been left to drift by successive housing ministers.”
Martin Walshe is Head of New Homes at Cheffins.