The arrival of a new housing minister and the rebranding exercise at Marsham Street dominate the minds of Closed Circuit’s esteemed penmen this week
Housing lobbyists must be getting sick of coffee, given the amount of times they will have had an introductory meet and greet with a new housing minister over the past few years.
Dominic Raab, the 1,124th occupant of the role since 2014 (we may be rounding up slightly) brings massive enthusiasm for Brexit, free market economics and anti-green Belt building to the role.
Which is good, because the major challenges for the sector over the next few years are finding a workforce post-Brexit, helping those who are left behind by the operation of housing market forces and finding the land to build all the new homes we need to house them.
Closed Circuit is confident Mr Raab is the man for the job. He’s made an inauspicious start, having (at the time of writing) followed no one from housing on Twitter, or tweeted a single line about the topic. When he popped up on Question Time last week, he stuck to his strengths by not mentioning housing at all. The performance was described by one sector figure as “a bit like Grant Shapps on speed”. Bodes well.
While Mr Raab may not have been too active in the #ukhousing Twittersphere, his absence was more than compensated for by a parody version of the great man: Demonic Raab.
“Poor old Alok Sharma seems to have gone native during his time in this chair,” tweeted Mr Demonic. “If they think I’m going to traipse around hobnobbing with the great unwashed they’ve got another thought coming.”
All very amusing, especially in the occasional interaction with a po-faced tweeter who didn’t immediately spot the parody. Sadly the fun police at Twitter got involved and suspended the account after less than a week of operation.
Mr Raab’s arrival obviously also coincided with the rebranding of the Department for Communities and Local Government as the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Whether this was either a pointless rebrand and the waste of hundreds of pounds of taxpayer cash on some new signage or a welcome signal of the priority given to housing by the government depends on your perspective.
What got folks talking was what we should call the new ministry. Should it be “MHCLG” or pronounced phonetically as “muhclug”? The general consensus by the end of the week was “HoCoLoGo”, which sparked some silly puns online and sounds a bit more like Theresa May has opened a new Mexican restaurant than a serious government department.