This week has seen the Prime Minister undertake his first Ministerial reshuffle as the leader of a majority Government, the first for in 18 years.
At the Department for Communities and Local Government, the plain speaking Eric Pickles has been replaced as Secretary of State by Greg Clark, the Member of Parliament for Tunbridge Wells. Having started out at the Department in 2010 as Minister for Decentralisation, his promotion sees him move up from his post as Minister of State for Universities and Science.
A committed localist, Mr Clark was passionate throughout the last Parliament about empowering city regions by handing power down to local communities, and this was embodied within the Localism Act of which he was one of the architects.
Together with Brandon Lewis, the re-appointed Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Clark will be pushing the Conservative’s ambitions to rekindle the property owning democracy as called for by Anthony Eden.
With that in mind, Clark can expect a tough battle with housing associations as he seeks to roll out Conservative plans to extend the right to buy to include them.
It is likely also that Ministers will review the effectiveness of their policy prior to the election, and implemented in law, to ensure letting agents are clear with prospective tenants about the level of fees they charge.
For the private rented sector, the re-election of the Conservatives will see them push forward with plans outlined in the Budget in March to make it easier for tenants to sub-let their properties. Prior to the election the RLA received confirmation from senior officials at the Department that the proposals would be fully consulted on in the event of the new Government wanting to pursue the measure.
As Secretary of State, Mr Clark could also revisit issues around security of tenure in the sector. When he was last a Minister at the Department, in 2011, he raised fears about insecurity in the private rented sector. He argued, “it’s destroying family life in so many ways. How can a family put down roots if they’re on six months’ notice to quit on a buy-to-let?”
At the Department for Work and Pensions David Cameron has opted for continuity, retaining Iain Duncan-Smith as the Secretary of State. Having led the establishment of Universal Credit, he will be tasked with rolling it out nationwide.
Perhaps his biggest task however will be to find the £12 billion of savings in the welfare budget pledged within the Conservative’s manifesto. This will include plans to ensure that 18-21 year olds on Jobseeker’s Allowance will “no longer have an automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit.”
At the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the defeat of the Liberal Democrats opened up an opportunity for a Conservative to lead the Department. The Prime Minister duly went to appoint Amber Rudd, the MP for Hastings Rye.
Having been a junior Minister at the Department in the last Parliament she will be hoping to hit the ground running.
With green groups having welcomed her appointment, she will, among many other issues, be overseeing Conservative manifesto plans to insulate a further 1 million homes over the next five years to support efforts to tackle poverty. She will also have a crucial role to play as the RLA seeks to restore the Landlord’s Energy Savings Allowance which was scrapped in the last Budget.
Finally, free from coalition Government and having been re-appointed Home Secretary, Theresa May will be looking to make an impact on the issue of immigration. With that in mind it can be expected, subject to a review of the pilot area, she and other Ministers will want to roll out nationwide measures to make landlords legally responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants.
Ed Jacobs is the RLA Political Consultant.