Government Housing Implementation Taskforce has first meeting
The inaugural meeting of the government's Housing Implementation Taskforce has taken place, bringing together a range of different ministries to assess progress in increasing the rate of house building and improve coordination across departments.
Prime minister Theresa May chaired the meeting and issues under discussion included the key role Homes England can play in housing delivery, the use of cash allocated in the Budget, last year's housing white paper, reforms to the planning system and the supply of land.
Further topics included land banking, public sector land divestment and the supply of construction skills.
A Downing Street spokesman said: "The prime minister reiterated that a step change was needed right across government and that all departments needed to think creatively about how they can contribute to building the homes the country needs."
Those present included communities secretary Sajid Javid, chancellor Philip Hammond, transport secretary Chris Grayling, environment secretary Michael Gove, and under secretary for defence Tobias Ellwood.
Such a line-up indicates how the government envisages co-ordinating future planning, through steps such as juxtaposing new housing developments with transport infrastructure projects like new roads or railway stations.
The defence element represented by Mr Ellwood may also be significant because the Ministry of Defence is currently divesting a quarter of its estate. Much of this is ideal building land in places such as East Anglia, where numerous old air bases are being made available.
Letting agents and landlords may be following progress closely, as success in increasing the supply of new homes is likely to positively impact on the availability of good rental properties. This is not least because the government has recognised that rent-to-build is part of the solution.
Commenting on the meeting, estate agent's trade magazine The Negotiator commented: "The property industry can no longer grumble that the government does not take the housing market seriously after the prime minister yesterday chaired the first meeting of her new housing task force."
However, it noted, there was one "oddly suspicious" absence, as the new housing minister Dominic Raab was not among those listed as attending the meeting. No reason was given for this, nor his lack of presence stated in the government release.