Paul Broadhead: Housing minister must have more power
According to Broadhead in the existing format the housing minister – currently Brandon Lewis – lacks the authority to make a real difference.
Currently the Department for Communities and Local Government – where Lewis sits as minister of state for housing and planning – has responsibility for housing development. However the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has responsibility for the construction industry, while the Treasury is accountable for housing schemes such as Help to Buy.
Broadhead said: “If political parties are going to put housing centre stage, then put their money where their mouth is and put the housing minister at the centre of government, in a cabinet position that has the authority to pull together different departments.
“At the moment the housing minster is sitting in a Department for Communities which can only have a small impact and doesn’t have any influence over other departments.
“There’s been a cabinet position in the past but there hasn’t been one with an overarching responsibility over different departments.
“What we need is a co-ordinated housing strategy.”
He conceded that David Cameron has made some changes for the better by creating a crossover between the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Department for the Environment for Food and Rural Affairs.
He added: That’s a step in the right direction but it doesn’t go far enough in my view.
“Housing and the environment are linked so it makes sense.
“We’ve made that step, let’s see how it goes in the next six months.
“Let’s learn from that and start the next government with a housing minister with the power to deliver.”
Such is the scale of the problem the UK faces; in 1968 352,540 homes were built with the help of public sector funding, while 133,670 homes were completed in 2013.
Paul Broadhead feels that private housebuilders can step in with the right support from the government.
He said: “Bricks are getting scarcer and scarcer so we need somebody to pull this together.
“How much can the self-build market deliver? How much can the custom market pull together?
“Are there opportunities for smaller and semi-house builders as well?
“Is there a role for the government to do some building?”