It is good to see the Housing Minister speaking for the Government today. He not only told the House that housing was the Government’s chief domestic priority, but told an industry conference in February that
“once we get beyond Brexit, housing will be the Government’s priority.”
Given the mess that the Government have made of Brexit for more than two years, and given that the Prime Minister is in Europe today begging for an extension just so that we can move on to the next stage of the negotiations, that bodes badly for the Government’s future focus on housing. I have to say to the Minister that Brexit is a very feeble alibi for a totally non-Brexit Department with six Ministers and 2,000 civil servants.
I enjoyed the Minister’s speech, but the story that he tries to tell is so at odds with the experience of millions of people up and down the country that he and his colleagues risk sounding complacent. They risk sounding as if they just do not get it. They do not get the public’s anger and frustrated hopes of a housing market that they feel is rigged against them. They do not get the despair at being one in a million on council housing waiting lists when the number of new homes for social rent built last year was just 6,453. They do not get the lives blighted by bad housing—children growing up in temporary accommodation hostels, renters too scared to ask landlords to do repairs, young couples stripped of the hope of home ownership and prevented from starting a family or putting down roots—and they do not get the fact that a systematically broken housing market demands wholesale change and cannot be fixed without big action from Government.