Houses of Parliament

Has the new housing minister calmed fears over property market uncertainty?



Alok Sharma has been urged to use the Housing White Paper to understand how and where the mechanisms for housing supply failed, in a bid to address concerns within the property market.

The comments come after a recent poll conducted by Development Finance Today found that 80% of property professionals did not think the new housing minister had calmed fears over housing market uncertainty. 

Alok Sharma poll

Mr Sharma took over as minister of state for housing and planning following June’s general election, which saw the previous incumbent Gavin Barwell lose his seat. 

In February of this year, Mr Barwell unveiled the housing white paper, which set out plans on how the government was going to tackle the housing crisis. 

However, the Regentsmead">hung parliament following the general election has added to concerns within the housing market, which already had fears regarding the Brexit vote. 

Since the election, there has yet to be any major housing policy announcements from Mr Sharma.

What does Alok Sharma need to do to calm housing market fears?

Rico Wojtulewicz, policy adviser for the National Federation of Builders, felt that Mr Sharma must use the opportunity of the housing white paper to understand how and where the mechanism for housing supply failed.

“The white paper seeks to break down some of those barriers to deliverable supply, but it is only a tentative first step. 

“We hope that the minister for housing and planning recognises that.  

“We will not build enough homes unless the planning system is fixed. 

“This must be the primary motivation of any minister wanting to solve the housing crisis.”

Katy Katani, associate director for business development and marketing at Zorin Finance, wanted to see the removal of obstacles to the delivery of new homes.

“It’s important to make affordable housing to buy and rent a priority. 

“The government needs to ensure a successful housing strategy across the range of tenures for the years to follow as set out in the white paper.”

Katy also felt that housing associations and councils should continue to be viewed by the government as an integral part of the solution to achieving the much-needed supply of new homes.

“This includes funding to deliver regeneration solutions that are an integral element to balancing housing markets.

“Measures need to be put into place to speed up housebuilding and delivery of infrastructure.

“Also, a reformed stamp duty system – so sellers take on the cost rather than homebuyers – should be high on the agenda.”

Katy also wanted to see the local government allowance cap for supported housing removed, claiming that it had stalled so many supported housing developments in the past. 

However, Ashley Ilsen, head of lending at Regentsmead, felt a lot of the uncertainty around the housing market was irreparable damage caused by wider political occurrences. 

“We are, of course, going through a very painful divorce with the EU, coupled with a relatively weak majority in the House of Commons. 

“There is the growing possibility that interest rates will rise in the near future, however, this is unlikely to be a significant increase at first.”

Ashley said there was still a possibility that the government could stimulate and reinvigorate the housing market with both demand- and supply-side legislation, but felt it was unlikely at this time.

“My concern is that the damage is already done and we are now facing an inevitable correction in the near future.”

Meanwhile, Michael Dean, principal at Avamore Capital, felt the housing minister did not have much influence over the housing market.

"The Chancellor is far more influential - the main reason why the prime central london property market has had it’s bubble popped is because the series of tax changes made by George Osbourne (CGT on second homes, Non-Doms, ATED and most of all, SDLT changes) has had far more of an impact. 

"The housing minister can only really influence supply."


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