Alex Morton, author of Cities for Growth and Extending Social Tenancies (and much, much more) for Policy Exchange, is one of the jewels in the think-tank’s crown. And just as Neil O’Brien was snatched away before him by the Treasury, so Morton himself has now been pilfered by Downing Street: he is to work in the Policy Unit, reporting to Jo Johnson, who is taking an interest in housing.
Johnson and Downing Street are following where George Osborne is leading. The Chancellor has rightly identified housing as strategic electoral ground on which Labour wants to park its bandwagon – and vital in its own right, especially for younger people, who don’t have the same access to home ownership that earlier generations enjoyed. O’Brien’s localist influence, not to mention Morton’s, shone through in last week Autumn statement announcement that “councils will sell off the most expensive social housing, so they can house many more families for the same money”. The plan is a leaf straight out of Morton’s Extending Social Tenancies book.
We will miss Morton badly here at ConservativeHome. He has been our leading guest writer on housing for some time – see here, here and here, for example – and an invaluable contributor to the Homes, Jobs & Savings campaign launched by this site just before Party Conference. He will leave a gap that will be very hard to fill – here and at Policy Exchange. We wish him the very best of luck.