Mr Shapps is entitled to be proud of what he has achieved in his two years as a radical and energetic Housing Minister. In many ways the extent of his achievements will only become apparent over the next two years. Restoring worthwhile discounts for the right to buy makes home ownership a realistic option for many more council tenants. Measures have been brought in to increase the supply of housing through incentives and lifting burdens – not by Soviet style central control.
The New Homes Bonus, the streamlining of planning and building regulations, and a shift to restoring rather than bulldozing empty derelict properties will make a great difference. So will the sale of redundant public sector land to be used for housing.
Mr Shapps has also helped to take on the dependency culture. The rich living in council tenancy should not have their rent subsidised by they poor, often in private rented accommodation. Those on the waiting list for council housing should be rewarded for working. In future, new tenants should not automatically have a council tenancy for life regardless of any change in circumstances. Now all Mr Shapps has to do is ensure we win the next election.
So the new Housing Minister Mark Prisk has a challenging agenda to deliver. As Business Minister he championed cutting red tape and promoting apprenticeships – both highly relevant to his new job. I was encouraged that he visited the Prince's Natural House in Watford in May at a Prince's Foundation for Building Community event (pictured.) That offers some hope that he might make winning acceptance for new housing easier if that housing is attractive, traditional and on a human scale, rather than the modernist, brutalist offerings favoured by the planning and architectural establishment.