A Cabinet for Housing?

by John Newcomb, BMF CEO
18 September 2019

John NewcombSuccessive Governments have been keen to highlight the need for more housing and the Conservatives even set a target of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. Apart from the Help to Buy scheme we have seen precious little fresh thinking or decisive action to achieve this target, yet events around the country to mark the centenary of council housing show the continuing need for homes of all types and tenures at prices people can afford.

Critics are quick to note that with Esther McVey’s recent appointment as Minister for Housing we have now seen 10 Tory Housing Ministers in the last 9 years, which does little for a consistent approach.  Taking a more positive view, the make-up of the current Cabinet shows just how many MPs take on the housing brief during their upward ministerial trajectory.

There are two ministers at the Cabinet table with responsibility for housing: Esther and her Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick.  In addition, there are four former Housing Ministers in the Cabinet – Dominic Raab, Alok Sharma, Brandon Lewis and Grant Shapps – and one former Secretary of State, Sajid Javid.  If we also count in Boris Johnson’s experience of housing and planning policy when he was London Mayor, this could be the most pro-housing Cabinet the BMF has seen in its entire 111-year history!

Be assured we will continue to promote the building materials industry’s role in the new homes supply chain and encourage the new minister to act to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply.

Members’ Conference

BMF members have heard first hand from several Housing Ministers. For example, Alok Sharma spoke at our 2017 Members Annual Conference and Sajid Javid addressed our Parliamentary Reception last year.  Esther McVey’s predecessor in the post, Kit Malthouse, had agreed to speak at this year’s Members conference, but with Brexit now dominating the Cabinet agenda until the end of October, we are waiting to see if Esther is able to take up the invitation extended to her.

In any event Members can look forward to an enlightening and entertaining day at their Annual Conference in September, which has a new format to this year. Following a morning of high-profile speakers, the afternoon sessions are designed to give delegates an opportunity to sample a variety of BMF training courses and discover more about three of our business support services covering Employment, Transport and Health & Safety.

The evening session is given over to celebrating the achievements of member companies as well as the achievements of individuals working within our industry with Apprentice of the Year and Young Achiever of the Year Awards.

Our Awards Dinner is also one the of the BMF’s main fundraising events of the year. Over the last two years the generosity of our members has helped us to raise almost £220,000 for charitable causes.  At this year’s Dinner Bobby Davro, the comedian, actor and TV personality, will host a charity auction raising money to be shared equally between the BMF’s charity of the year, Variety – the Children’s Charity, and Samaritans, another cause close to our hearts as we continue to raise awareness of mental health within the industry and to promote the training of mental health first-aiders within our own organisation and for our members.

It promises to be another memorable event, and I look forward to seeing many of you there.

This article first appeared in the September 2019 edition of BMN

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