Aargh. Just when I thought we’d finally got a secretary of state for housing who vaguely understood the brief…
Robert Jenrick clung on longer than most, but now, just a week after he delivered one of the most well-received-ever political keynote speeches at RESI, he’s out, which is perhaps no surprise after the collapse of all his grand plans. The Lib Dem victory in the Chesham and Amersham by-election was a clear warning shot (and he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory last year with his controversial decision – subsequently reversed – to approve Richard Desmond’s Westferry scheme in Docklands after sitting next to him at a fundraising dinner).
The news of Boris’s big cabinet reshuffle came as Property Week was going to press. Quite what Jenrick’s ousting in favour of Michael ‘Nine Lives’ Gove (who takes on an even wider brief) means who knows, but it is unlikely to bode well. No doubt the “five key ideas” at the heart of Jenrick’s planning reforms are now out the window.
At RESI, he also – refreshingly – admitted the government’s fixation on stimulating demand could sometimes be “counterproductive” and that “we also have to be ambitious about supply”. How bold will Gove be in trying to hit what Jenrick acknowledged was an “extremely ambitious” target of delivering 300,000 new homes a year? Will he see the target as over-ambitious and scrap it?
If not that, what will he scrap? New incumbents always go back to the drawing board to a certain extent. Oh, and good luck walking the tightrope between levelling up in the north and Midlands and not hacking off the Tory faithful in the home counties. Oh well, at least he is not new to housing – he was shadow minister from 2005 to 2007.
Another big question is whether the reshuffle will distract attention away from the climate agenda. COP26 takes place in November and while there have been plenty of bold statements of intent from government – and even bolder targets – there have also been a lot of false starts (the Green Homes Grant scheme for one) and not a lot of action, with the government looking increasingly to the property industry to do the heavy lifting.
Next week, we will be holding a Climate Crisis Challenge Spotlight Event asking: ‘How do we turn followship into leadership ahead of COP26?’. If you want to get involved in the debate, email me your questions, so I can put them to the C-suite panel on your behalf, and answer the below poll question, so I can feed back your responses.
It promises to be a lively event, as does our must-attend WorkSpace Conference + Showcase on 1 October, which boasts a stellar line-up of speakers and takes place at a pivotal moment in the great return to the office.
Diversity and inclusion
One of the most important sessions at WorkSpace will focus on how to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. It is one of the biggest challenges facing not just the office sector but the industry as a whole and this week, industry leaders reveal how they are tackling it.
With help from our D&I Editorial Advisory Board, we want to do our bit, too. We will also shortly be launching a reverse mentoring programme, with a view to bringing together 50 industry leaders, mainly from traditional backgrounds, and 50 reverse mentors, mainly from non-traditional backgrounds. Watch this space.