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8 INDUSTRY NEWS


Sharma is sixth Housing Minister since 2010


Praising Sharma’s “parliamentary record


in highlighting the damaging impact of late payment” for SMEs, the House Builders Association (HBA) congratulated the new Minister on his appointment, looking forward to establishing a “good working relationship” with him. Rico Wojtulewicz, policy advisor for the


Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, has been appointed as the new Housing and Planning Minister.


Sharma will now fill the role of Minister of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government, becoming the sixth Housing Minister since 2010. With no background in housing, Sharma is a qualified accountant by trade, previously working in corporate finance before moving into politics.


He has previously served as the PM’s infrastructure envoy to India, minister for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign and Commonwealth office, as well being on the Treasury and Science select committees. With a 2,876 majority, Sharma was re-elected in the recent general election, down from his 6,650 lead in 2015.


INDUSTRY REACTION Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, welcomed the appointment. He said it is “vital” that, to deliver the Government’s ambitious housing targets, Sharma “ensures that the recommendations within the 2017 Housing White Paper…are delivered in full.”


“The fact that the Conservative Party’s manifesto opened up the possibility of local authorities taking a more active role in housebuilding suggests that the Government was still open to new and radical approaches to solving the housing crisis. It would be a shame if such radicalism was dropped in light of the hung parliament,” Berry commented. He concluded: “We look forward to working closely with the new Minister, whose experience in the Treasury should hold him in excellent stead for the challenges ahead.”


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HBA, commented: “We need to get on with the job of reforming the planning process, unlocking access to finance for SME housebuilders and enabling them to take on more apprentices.” “Our members,” he continued, “are encouraged by Sharma’s previous parliamentary work on tackling late payment, supporting sustainable development and valuing local employ- ment. As housing and planning minister, we hope he will be a champion for SMEs.” Dan Gandesha, founder of Property


Partner, urged the new Minister “to make clear without delay that commitments made in the Housing White Paper still stand, and that investment in homes of all types remain key priorities for the new government, particularly when it comes to affordable, quality rental stock.” He hopes the “disruptive 3 per cent additional stamp duty charge” will be reviewed, as well as suggesting that, “if the


FAREWELL, BARWELL Gavin Barwell, the now former Conservative Housing Minister, lost his seat in Croydon Central to Labour. After a night where the Conservatives lost 12 seats, the UK was left with a hung parliament, and Barwell without a job. He wasn’t out of work for long however, and has since been appointed as chief of staff to PM Theresa May.


Barwell won his Croydon Central seat with a slim majority of 165 votes in 2015, but in the general election Labour candidate Sarah Jones received 29,873 to Barwell’s 24,221.


He is likely to be missed by many in the construction industry, with his Housing White Paper having laid down the future agenda.


Barwell was however responsible for a controversial Conservative U-turn during the campaign, after rebutting promises to build a “new generation” of social housing in the manifesto. The pledge to build thousands of new social homes in fact related to “affordable rented homes”. Brian Berry said Gavin Barwell “deserves credit for his work in pushing forward a wide range of reforms,” hoping that his successor can “build on his legacy.”


incoming minister also acted to speed up the planning process alongside taxing land as soon as it has planning permission, to prevent land banking, then they would be set to make a revolutionary impact on the problems faced by buyers and tenants nationally.”


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