In light of Rishi’s reshuffle, today we lost another Housing Minister. Now, this shouldn't be a shock to us.
Since 2010, the average number of weeks spent in charge of the Housing portfolio has hovered around a duration that is worryingly similar to the average duration for the determination of a Major Planning Application in London. Surely if planning applications should be dealt with ‘without delay’, we should expect a little consistency from the Government? Not so…
If you’re seeking permission for a planning application in London you’re likely to have to wait between 27 weeks (Havering, OPDC) and an eye-watering 71 weeks (Camden), with an average of around 45 weeks from application to determination.
If you’ve entered the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities as Housing Minister since 2010, the average incumbency has been just 47 weeks. With the recent incumbents doing their utmost to bring this average down.
As the following chart shows, although the transiency of the Housing portfolio isn’t a recent, or politically aligned phenomenon, the issue has become much more acute in recent history.
In the last 40 years, there have been 32 Housing Ministers (or some variant of this portfolio). Michael Howard was the first one of these to be in position for less than a year (23 weeks, 1989). Since then, 10 of the Conservative ministers, and three Labour ministers have lasted less than 12 months.
Most striking, however, is that since 2012 only four of the 13 ministers have made it over the 52-week milestone (one of these - Kit Malthouse - snuck into this group by under a fortnight).
Under the current planning system, we expect Local Planning Authorities to determine planning applications ‘without delay’, and in a consistent and efficient manner. We’re also asking them to proactively plan ahead, keeping an accurate record of housing sites coming forward within a five-year period and making a Local Plan that covers fifteen years. The contrast between this expectation and the reality of a tenure within the Housing Ministry is stark.
If we’re serious about addressing the confluence of crises that fall under the remit of the Housing Minister, consistency is needed from those in power to help tackle these issues in a meaningful (and lasting) way.
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