Prime minister Rishi Sunak’s recent reshuffle has once again brought attention to the ever-revolving door of housing ministers, with Rachel Maclean the latest casualty. The appointment of Lee Rowley marks the 16th change in the housing minister brief since 2010. These frequent changes are hindering efforts to tackle the housing crisis by contributing to a lack of a comprehensive, long-term strategy.
Change a Big Issue vendor’s life this Christmas by purchasing a Winter Support Kit. You’ll receive four copies of the magazine and create a brighter future for our vendors through Christmas and beyond.
The scale and complexity of the UK’s housing crisis is significant. From the thousands of people without a place to live, to the millions of households on social housing waiting lists, the housing market has failed to meet the urgent need for stable and affordable housing. If we are to boost housing supply, promote higher standards and prioritise quality and sustainability, we require a strategic, proactive and holistic approach. But with the frequent changes in leadership, the development of a cohesive and sustained strategy continues to stall.
The plea for a consistent housing minister is not just a call for political stability, but a recognition of the complex challenges involved in addressing the housing crisis. Each new minister needs time to familiarise themselves with the intricacies of the issues in their portfolio, and just as they begin to grasp the complexities, they are replaced. This lack of continuity hampers the development of a strategic plan that is crucial for the effective, long-term resolution of the housing crisis.
In the face of these challenges, the role of architects becomes even more vital. Architects play a key role in designing and building high-quality, sustainable homes which are fit for the needs of our communities both now and in the future. The decline in the involvement of architects in mass-market housing has contributed to challenges in design standards, with ramifications for the environment. Many new homes never see the inside of an architect’s studio – this must change.
If we are to embed good design across all projects, there is a pressing need to address the resource gap in local authority planning departments, particularly the shortage of qualified design expertise.