As the Conservative government announced its 10th housing minister in 10 years, Christopher Pincher, what does the future hold for the controversial character? Back in 2017 he was forced to stand down from the first of his three roles in Parliament as a consequence of an altercation with a party activist. While he was eventually cleared by the Conservative party’s investigating panel, opposition MPs have not been slow in bringing forward his past activities.
Goodbye to Esther McVey
Many saw Esther McVey as a relatively safe pair of hands for what has been a very difficult role to keep hold of. It was obvious from her various tweets and messages after the Cabinet reshuffle that this move was forced upon her and not by choice. It is fair to say that she has had to handle a number of extremely controversial and delicate issues, one being the horrific Grenfell fire.
Even the dismissal of Esther McVey has itself been controversial with suggestions of a near £8000 payoff for a role she filled for just seven months. Previously she received nearly £17,000 when removed as work and pensions secretary after only 10 months in that job. While in the eyes of Boris Johnson these were moves which needed to be made, they are not without controversy…..
Looking forward for Christopher Pincher
Moving from his role in the foreign office he will now work alongside housing secretary Robert Jenrick who was been one of the few constants in the housing department in recent times. However, if the new minister was hoping for a relatively easy ride in his first few weeks/months, he’s in for a very unwelcome surprise!
It is fair to say that Grenfell is an issue which has dragged on for far too long amid concerns that other tower blocks in the UK still have a similar type of cladding. There have been promises after promises to address this issue but recent freedom of information requests show numerous councils have yet to even start work on replacing dangerous cladding. The inquest itself has turned into a bit of a farce with one committee member recently forced to excuse herself due to indirect connections with the cladding company. What next?
Renters reform bill
The much discussed renters reform bill is slowly making its way through Parliament although as yet there’s been no timetable announced for its introduction in law. Those who follow the sector will be well aware that issues such as the abolition of section 21 and introduction of the lifetime deposits concept have hit the headlines.
Regulation of property agents
The regulation of property agents working group has recommended mandatory qualifications for agents. This is something which the industry has been demanding for many years, as a means of removing rogue elements from this crowded sector. These regulations are likely to come into force in about two years.
Christopher Pincher will certainly have his hands full when he takes up office as the new minister for housing. It is fair to say this is a role in which few occupants dare to look too far into the future with 10 ministers over the last 10 years. He will have a full desk of issues to address and will need to hit the ground running to retain the confidence of Boris Johnson going forward.