Housing minister slammed after swerving building safety

Housing Minister Christopher Pincher failed to mention the building safety crisis affecting thousands of leaseholders and landlords across the country when giving a speech to the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual conference.

The pre-recorded speech was given to delegates on day one of the housing sector’s biggest conference of the year. Instead Mr Pincher focussed entirely on the new Affordable Homes Programme, decarbonisation and upcoming planning reforms.

After the speech, various figures criticised the Minister for failing to mention building safety or the Social Housing White Paper. Eamon McGoldrick, of the National Federation of

ALMOs, said it was “really strange” there was no reference to building safety as the Fire Safety Bill had recently passed and the Building Safety Bill was currently progressing.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, commented on the omission: “It’s the biggest challenge we face. It’s a non-negotiable issue for us. The safety of residents is our number one priority. We didn’t hear enough about the consumer – our residents, who are at the heart of everything we do.”

James Prestwich, director of policy and external affairs at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said there was a lot in the speech about houses and homes, but not enough about the people living in them. “I would have liked to have heard more about tenants and about residents across all tenures,” he said.

Instead Mr Pincher highlighted the investment being put into affordable housing by the Government, saying the new Affordable Homes Programme would fund 32,000 new social rent homes, double the number when compared with the last programme. He said consultation on planning reforms had produced 44,000 responses.

But speaking after the speech, Mr McGoldrick criticised the Government for focusing “too much on supply and cherry blossoms”, in reference to Mr Pincher’s promise that the Government would alter the National Planning Policy Framework to create “cherry blossom streets” similar to those seen on Champs-Élysées in Paris.

By Patrick Mooney, Editor