Jim Armitage: Reshuffle puts the Treasury in charge

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The Independent Online

Outlook The Coalition's view that clever financing is the way to solve our housing problems, rather than planned housebuilding programmes, was given flesh in the disappointed form of Mark Prisk, axed as housing minister in the reshuffle this week.

It was not his ousting that was so significant, but the fact the position he held was downgraded. His successor, Kris Hopkins, only gets the lowly title of parliamentary under-secretary of state. Labour, it should be said, retains housing as a full shadow minister position under Emma Reynolds.

So, when it comes to our need to build 200,000 new homes a year, the Government has decided the Treasury should take charge. As the Chartered Institute of Housing's Grainia Long puts it: "On the day Help to Buy phase two is launched, the Government appears to be sending mixed messages on the importance of housing to our economic recovery."

I'd say the message is far from mixed. It's clear: the Treasury is more concerned about keeping up house prices in marginal constituencies than building new homes for people who need them.