What does the new Parliament mean for housing?

Eliza Smith, 10 July 2024

On Thursday, we saw 335 successful candidates become MPs for the first time. This is a significant shake up – surpassing the 1945 record of 327. There are also 15 people returning to Parliament after some time away, bringing the total number of new MPs to 350.

Since the weekend, Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has been choosing who he wants in his cabinet and in key ministerial roles. Notable appointments include Rachel Reeves as the UK’s first female chancellor, and Yvette Cooper becoming home secretary.

Key appointments in the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has been renamed as the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). You may recall that between 2018 and 2021, the department was known as MHCLG until Boris Johnson renamed it DLUHC in September 2021, aligning with his government’s flagship domestic policy agenda. According to the new ministerial team, the words levelling up have been “firmly Tippexed out” as a sign of the slogan’s failure to resonate or deliver: “it wasn’t a thing that people felt in their communities.”

Angela Rayner has been appointed as Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Matthew Pennycook has been appointed as a Minister of State for MHCLG, leading on housing and planning. We’re pleased to be able to continue our strong and positive working relationship with both. The NHF went to visit Matthew Pennycook on his first working day following his appointment, and whilst there is lots of hard work ahead, we’re ready to hit the ground running working with the new government. When in opposition, the new Deputy Prime Minister spoke often about the transformative effect of growing up in affordable and safe housing.

Jim McMahon has also become a Minister of State, leading on devolution and local government. Both Alex Norris and Rushanara Ali have become Parliamentary Under Secretaries in the department, which is a more junior ministerial role.

In the Lords, Baroness Taylor has been appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the MHCLG, along with Lord Khan of Burnley. We have a close working relationship with Baroness Taylor, who brings significant experience with a background in local government and new towns.

We welcome the news of the continuity from the shadow ministerial housing team and we look forward to continuing the work which we started prior to Labour getting into government. After 16 Housing Ministers in the last ten years, we hope for a move towards continuity and policy certainty.

Other important appointments in government 

Liz Kendall has been appointed as Secretary of State in Work and Pensions. The NHF met with Liz Kendall in her previous role as Shadow Health Minister and built on this engagement whilst in her shadow role at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). We want to continue to build on this and we aim to shape welfare and homelessness policy.

Within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Wes Streeting has been made the new Health Secretary. We are looking forward to engaging with Wes Streeting in his new role, and working with the DHSC on care, health and housing.

Elsewhere in the cabinet, Ed Miliband retains his Shadow Cabinet position to become Secretary of State for Energy, Security and Net Zero (DESNZ). Darren Jones is appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Bridget Phillipson becomes Secretary of State for Education.

In a ministerial position, Sir Stephen Timms, the previous Chair of the Select Committee for Work and Pensions becomes a Minister of State for the DWP. Miatta Fahnbulleh, a brand-new MP with a background as the CEO of the New Economics Foundation and economic advisor to the opposition, becomes the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the DESNZ. It’s unusual for a newly elected MP to join the government frontbenches straight away – a sign of the high regard held for a number of Parliament’s fresh faces.

Parliament’s new housing experts?

Housing was a key battleground in the run up to the election, so it is no surprise that we saw a variety of prospective candidates with significant housing experience.

Some were successful in the election. This includes Andrew Lewin, the previous director of communications at one our biggest members, unseating Grant Shapps in Welwyn Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Gideon Amos, chartered architect and town planner, Torsten Bell, boss of the Resolution Foundation think tank, Alan Strictland, a director at one of our members, Emma Foody, a former employee at the NHF and lastly, Luke Murphy, a climate policy advisor also all won their respective seats. 

Big personnel changes across Parliament, including MP’s appointed with previous housing careers, places us in a positive position to continue our relationship-building across the summer parliamentary recess.

What's happening in the Conservative shadow cabinet?

Earlier this week, we saw Leader of the opposition, Rishi Sunak, carry out his appointments to the interim shadow cabinet, pending the upcoming leadership contest. The reshuffle sees changes for housing, with Former Business Secretary, Kemi Badenoch becoming Shadow Secretary for Levelling up, Housing and Communities.

Both Victoria Atkins and Claire Coutinho continue to shadow their former posts, as Shadow Health Secretary and Shadow Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero.

These posts will only be temporary until after the Conservative leadership contest, which Rishi Sunak announced would be taking place following the election result. Over the coming weeks and months the Conservative Party will be considering its future direction and strategy – we’ll be making the case for a cross-party consensus on support for social housing.