What does the reshuffle mean for architects?
Since the 2017 General Election it has frequently been said that solving the housing crisis is a central mission of Theresa May – both as a matter critical to the health of the nation and an issue of political expediency.
The January 2018 reshuffle further signalled the prioritisation of housing through a change of name of Department with responsibility for the area to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). Sajid Javid remains in place to lead the Department, having spent the last few months making a number of direction setting speeches on social housing, and build quality.
But in the middle ranks of the Minister we see a couple of changes – not least in welcoming in Dominic Raab MP as the new Minister for Housing. Raab comes from the Ministry of Justice, where he was Minister for Courts and Justice. The previous Housing Minister Alok Sharma MP has moved to the Department for Work and Pensions, and is now Minister responsible for Employment.
Commenting on the changes, RIBA President Ben Derbyshire said:
“I look forward to working with Dominic Raab in his new role as Housing Minister. There is no doubt that he has a challenge on his hands: a worsening housing crisis and a broken market are causing huge economic and social problems across the country and for decades our politicians have simply not done enough to deliver the high quality homes we need.
“I am pleased that housing has been added to the departmental and ministerial titles at the former Department for Communities and Local Government as part of yesterday’s reshuffle, emphasising the Government’s focus on addressing the housing crisis. In my first few months as RIBA President I’ve also been encouraged by the government’s commitment to design quality – including holding a ‘Quality Symposium’ at the RIBA and increasing capacity and expertise within the civil service on these vital issues. I hope Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid will keep growing public expectations of design quality in their sights.”
We also see continuity at the top of other Departments which the RIBA frequently engages with, including at the Department for Exiting the European Union and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. However, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport also welcomes in Matt Hancock MP as its new Secretary of State. The RIBA has been involved with both the DCMS and BEIS on ensuring that the UK Government’s other domestic flagship project – the Industrial Strategy – creates better opportunities for architects.
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