Another new housing minister – Stuart Andrew, becomes the 11th in 12 years

Another new housing minister – Stuart Andrew, becomes the 11th in 12 years

22 March 2022

The industry might have felt a strong sense of déjà vu, yet another housing minister was announced in Boris Johnson’s recent mini reshuffle on February 8.

The appointment of Stuart Andrew comes amid a tense period for the Prime Minister, who saw resignations of close aides following the ongoing “Partygate” allegations.

With critics calling on Mr Johnson to refresh his team, several junior ministers have moved around as he sought to shore up his government.

As a result, former Housing Minister Chris Pincher swapped roles with former deputy chief whip Mr Andrew, who marks the 11th housing minister in the past 12 years.

The move comes not long after the housing ministry became the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) in September 2021 and Michael Gove was appointed its secretary of state.

But the industry has speculated whether the role is a mere stepping stone to higher office. Several current senior Cabinet ministers – including Dominic Raab, Grant Shapps, Alok Sharma and Brandon Lewis – have notably shifted into a more high-profile role after a stint as Housing Minister.

However, the infamous revolving door has been around for a long time, with Mr Andrew being the 20th housing minister since 1997.

Who is Stuart Andrew?

Mr Andrew was elected a Conservative councillor in 1999 and became MP for Pudsey, West Yorkshire, in 2010.

He previously served as a deputy chief whip and held parliamentary under-secretary roles in the Welsh Office and the Ministry of Defence.

Before his venture into politics, he led the fundraising team for Martin House Hospice. 

Regarded as a little-known figure compared to some of his predecessors, Mr Andrew has no clear experience operating in the property sector.

However, like many MPs, he is a landlord, which may give hope to some in the sector that he will take a more sympathetic stance on rental reform and protecting landlord rights.

Interestingly, though, Mr Andrew previously campaigned against plans by Leeds City Council to build 70,000 homes on green belt land.

He also voted against a 2016 Labour amendment to a Housing and Planning Bill designed to ensure all rented homes were ‘fit for human habitation’. 

What will be Mr Andrew’s in-tray?

Mr Andrew’s appointment comes at a critical time for the housing sector, with extensive rental reform recently announced in the Levelling Up White Paper.

The confirmed plans – which include scrapping Section 21, introducing a landlord register, and cracking down on rogue landlords – are set to be developed in the White Paper on rental reform in the spring.

To this end, Mr Andrew will be working closely with Housing Secretary Michael Gove and the rest of the team at the DLUHC.

Alongside rental reform, the ministers will liaise on leasehold, cladding, affordable housebuilding, and the long-awaited Regulation of Property Agents, which aims to reform the sales and lettings side of the estate agency.

Three years in the making, this could further delay the reform as the government prioritises other things.

Industry reaction

The announcement was met with surprise from the industry, as a lesser-known figure takes on the role in a critical time for the private rented sector.

Many hope that Mr Andrew will end the current run of eleven different housing ministers in twelve years and finally offer some stability to the position and the industry.

With a tough job on his hands, Mr Andrew will be under the microscope for months to come. His opening gambit is unclear, but there might still be some hope for the lettings sector.

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