Housing: campaigners slam government as 'shambolic' after reshuffle with 16 ministers since 2010

Lee Rowley becomes the 16th new housing minister since 2010, having held the role for two months under Liz Truss.

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Campaign groups have slammed the government as “shambolic” after the housing minister was sacked the day before the Renters Reform Bill reached committee stage.

Lee Rowley was reappointed housing minister, after serving for less than two months under Liz Truss, after he replaced Rachel Maclean in Rishi Sunak’s bombshell reshuffle yesterday (13 November). That means there have been 15 different housing ministers since 2010, under 16 tenures, and six in the last two years. 

Maclean said on X (Twitter) that she was “disappointed and was looking forward to introducing the Renters Reform Bill to committee tomorrow and later the Leasehold and Freehold Bill”.

Senior government ministers praised Maclean, with Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch describing her as an “excellent minister” who had been “always attentive to MPs and their constituents and got some very tricky legislation over the line”. Housing Secretary Michael Gove retweeted this post.

The Renters Reform Bill - which strengthens tenants’ rights - will start the committee stage process of it becoming law today, when it will undergo line-by-line scrutiny of its contents, in Rowley’s first full day on the job since his reappointment.

Campaign groups have described this as “shambolic”, with Tom Darling, campaign manager of the Renters’ Reform Coalition, saying: “Rachel Maclean attended our events and, though we don't believe the Government are going far enough on rental reform, she was always willing to engage with us – we wish her well for the future.

Michael Gove is the Housing Secretary. Credit: Kim Mogg/Getty/AdobeMichael Gove is the Housing Secretary. Credit: Kim Mogg/Getty/Adobe
Michael Gove is the Housing Secretary. Credit: Kim Mogg/Getty/Adobe

“It is frankly shambolic that we will now be on to our 16th housing minister since 2010, and incredibly nine just since the Government promised to end no-fault evictions. Now, just before the first day of the important committee stage, which involves poring over the detail of the Bill, she is sacked – it makes a mockery of government and shows a shocking lack of respect for England’s 11 million private renters.”

A survey from London lettings and estate agent, Benham and Reeves, of tenants across England and Wales found that 91% said they don’t feel the government cares about renters or their quality of life, while nine in 10 said they thought the ban on no-fault evictions should have be brought in by now.

Shelter said there had not been a minister “in the job long enough to get to grips with the problem” of “soaring” evictions and record high numbers of people in temporary accommodation. Chief executive Polly Neate described a “revolving door of housing ministers” which had proven “the government’s failure to grasp the scale and urgency of the housing emergency”.

Lee Rowley is the new Housing Secretary. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA WireLee Rowley is the new Housing Secretary. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Lee Rowley is the new Housing Secretary. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

She said: “The 16th housing minister since 2010 has to hit the ground running and the first thing on their to-do list must be to pass a watertight Renters Reform Bill and scrap no-fault evictions.

“Time is of the essence for this government to finally prioritise housing and push forward with the solutions that will end the housing emergency and improve people’s lives – including building decent social homes, fixing private renting and making it more affordable.”

Labour Shadow Housing Secretary Angela Rayner said on X (Twitter) that “this Government is an embarrassment, 15 Tory Housing Ministers since 2010. A track record of abject failure”.

The Shadow Housing Minister Matthew Pennycook added: “I wish Rachel Maclean well for the future but her sacking perfectly illustrates this Tory government’s indifferent attitude to housing and planning. We need certainty and stability to get Britain building again.”

Rishi Sunak’s spokesman was asked by journalists if the number of housing ministers since 2010 showed the short-term decision making that the Prime Minister he railed against in his conference speech. He responded:  “The Prime Minister needs to make a decision in the round who fits best for ministers and secretaries of state, that’s what he has done today, it will not detract from our approach which puts us on course to deliver one million homes this Parliament, we’ve already delivered 2.2million since 2010.

“The PM thanks her for the work she’s done in the role. It’s because of decisions taken that we are on course to meet our manifesto commitment. What will matter to the public is that more homes are getting built. We have seen planning permission granted for 264,000 homes in the last year, obviously we want to go further.”

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