Simon Clarke is the new housing secretary following Liz Truss’s cabinet reshuffling. At a time when mortgage interest rates are increasing rapidly, what urgent action does the industry need to see?
Liz Truss’s cabinet reshuffle sees Simon Clarke as our new secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC). Responsible for the department’s business and overseeing the levelling up of the housing department, Clarke wrote in a recent Twitter post that it was a “huge honour” to be appointed. He went on to say, “This is a department that I know really well, and which I am so looking forward to returning to”.
However, it is undeniable that this is a tumultuous time for the housing market. Despite the announcement of the Stamp Duty cut in the recent mini-budget and landlord resilience keeping the private rental sector strong, lender activity means navigating the market is still a struggle. With rates being increased and withdrawn in such quick succession, industry experts are calling upon our new housing secretary to get the right support in place to help landlords weather the storm.
The Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), Ben Beadle, urges Clarke to address the rental housing supply crisis as a priority. “Uncertainty over reforms to the private rented sector are leading many landlords to leave the market when demand for rented homes remains high”. He continues, “All this is doing is increasing rents, making it more difficult for those wanting to become homeowners”.
Beadle goes on to call upon the government to review the rental reform white paper, stating it needs to include “action to tackle anti-social tenants, scrapping plans that would damage the student housing market, and reforming the courts to ensure legitimate possession cases are dealt with more swiftly”.
Nick Sanderson, the Chief Executive at Audley Group, felt the government should focus on slightly different priorities and “look beyond empty promises to build more houses”.
Sanderson states that the priority for the government should be “better alignment of housing and health”, adding that “Building more specialist housing would free up existing family homes”. He continues to say that “It’s never going to be greener to build more, when the solution is to build smart”.
However, Kate Davies, the Executive Director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, has a slightly different view on the housing stock issue. Davies remarks that there’s been “so many promises from successive governments on how they will improve housing supply, and so much undelivery, that Mr Clarke will have his work cut out for him”.
As Simon Clarke has previously served as minister at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, his promotion will hopefully suggest “that housing will be a stronger focus for the new Truss government”, Davies added.
She continues, “We urgently need more housing stock to help younger generations in the UK become first-time buyers and start building up equity for a stable financial future.
“We also need much more public sector housing – and greater recognition of the essential role of the private rented sector”. Davies finishes that “To do this, we need a coherent long-term strategy that can last longer than the span of a single Government”.
As is clear, the industry has a range of urgent needs for the new secretary to address. What is most apparent, however, is that the housing supply issue desperately needs tackling one way or another. There is also a call for more concrete support to be put in place to keep property investors within the market. These landlords are providing good-quality and affordable homes for the growing number of people unable to afford to buy. Without the government’s support, tenants and landlords alike will undoubtedly struggle.
As always, when we learn more about the new housing secretary’s plans for the sector, we will keep you updated. In the meantime, rates are still on the rise, so if you are considering a new property investment, or have a remortgage coming up, please get in touch sooner rather than later. Our expert brokers can search the market for the mortgage solution that best suits you. Get in touch by calling us on 0345 345 6788 or by submitting an enquiry here.
28th September 2022