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Senior industry leader questions experience of new housing minister

Guild CEO vents his frustration, like many others in the sector, that latest minister has little or no property track record.

Nigel Lewis

The Guild of Property Professionals’ CEO Ian McKenzie, fresh from announcing the landmark deal between his organisation and online agent easyProperty, has voiced his doubts about the new housing minister Alok Sharma (pictured, right).

Sharma, who is MP for Reading West, was revealed as the new Housing Minister yesterday afternoon but apart from his tweets saying how honoured he is to get the job, there are few official announcements except for the initial and brief list published on the No.10 website.

He has also been plunged in the deep end following the tragic events within Grenfell Tower in London, where so far up to six people are feared to have died following last night’s catastrophic fire.

Ian McKenzie imageIan McKenzie (pictured, left) points out that Sharma is the sixth housing minister in seven years and, although he welcomed the appointment after a five-day wait following the initial cabinet re-shuffle, he says he is “concerned by Alok Sharma’s lack of industry experience”.

Housing crisis

“There’s no doubt that his background in accountancy will help with the role, but the housing market is in crisis,” say Ian.

“We need a government representative who will stand up for the industry. I hope that Sharma can step up to the plate.”

Sources within his local constituency and beyond would indicate that Sharma does have a little experience in property – he is believed to have been a landlord until 2010 or 2011.

But what worries Ian McKenzie more than his thin property-background is the lack of position at cabinet for him, a benefit that his predecessor Gavin Barwell enjoyed.

“Housing was a key concern during election campaigning, but now it looks set to take a back seat in policy making while Brexit dominates the agenda while the sector deals with yet another new housing minister,” says Ian.

“As CEO of The Guild, I am going to endeavour to raise the profile of the issues facing our industry during this government, no matter how long it lasts for.”

Sharma is a right-of-centre Tory, having voted many times in Parliament to cut housing benefit spending, and in favour of the ‘bedroom tax’. He will, like Gavin Barwell, also cover the briefs of both housing and planning within the Departments of Communities and Local Government.

June 14, 2017

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