Published in Property Week on 7 February 2023 and EG on 8 February 2023
Lucy Frazer is leaving her post as housing minister at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to become the secretary of state for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), as part of prime minister Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle.
The government has yet to announce who will replace her as the 15th housing minister since the Conservatives took office in 2010.
Frazer was only appointed as minister of housing by Sunak in November, becoming the fifth person to occupy the role in the past eight months. She will replace Michelle Donelan at the DCMS, who was appointed by Liz Truss in September. The move is likely to be greeted with dismay by the property industry.
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “We had begun a very constructive dialogue with Lucy Frazer and it’s hugely frustrating to see the rapid departure of yet another housing minister in the middle of both significant policy changes and uncertain market conditions.
“Above all we need clarity and stability from government to help unlock the new homes the country so vitally needs.”
Stuart Baillie, head of planning at Knight Frank, said: ”When Lucy Frazer was appointed the first minister for housing and planning, we all hoped this might be a sign that government was placing appropriate emphasis on getting the proposed planning reforms right.
”She’s now the fourth minister in a row that hasn’t lasted five months in office – how can we sensibly plan for any kind of future like this? This has been a ‘revolving door’ role for years; we need to find a way to keep Housing Ministers in post for longer than a few months if we have any hope of making serious and sustained improvements to the fractured housing and planning system.”
David O’Leary, executive director at Home Builders Federation, commented: ”The housing challenges that the country faces grow by the day and with a chaotic policy agenda, housing supply is falling.
”Yet another new minister, the sixth Housing Minister in 12 months, will now need to be given time to get up to speed with the realities of building homes in an increasingly difficult environment.”
Nick Fell and Jason Lowes, partners at Rapleys, commented: ”Another cabinet reshuffle, another housing minister. The housing industry is in desperate need of certainty and commitment not a revolving door.
”It is impossible to bring forward much needed housing in the UK without a clear and committed strategy with someone familiar spearheading it. The fact we cannot even have a housing minister for longer than three months highlights the real problem – politics is getting in the way of priorities.”
Meanwhile, Sarah Heale will replace Jeremy Pocklington as permanent secretary at the DLUHC. She will join from her previous role as permanent secretary at the DCMS.
Following the reshuffle, Sunak said the government needed ”to reflect the priorities of the British people and be designed to deliver for them”.
He wrote on Twitter: “These changes will focus teams on the issues that will build a better future for our children & grandchildren.”