Since the October budget our new Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, has been putting it about a bit in the media, but before he had a curiously low profile.
One moment Iain Duncan Smith was planning to relocate millions of tenants from deprived northern cities to the prosperous south, the next George Osbourne was announcing swinging cuts to the housing benefit budget and then the Prime Minister weighs in proposing to end security of tenure. Shapps was nowhere to be seen and there was no indication he’d even been consulted about these.
Shapp’s one proposal is an online mutual exchange system to enable
tenants to move between local authorities. I vaguely recall being puzzled when he trailed this before the election. I assumed once in government someone would point out such schemes have existed since the 1985 Housing Act and went online more than five years ago. However, in August up pops Shapps with his big online mutual exchange policy.
“The Minister will introduce a new National Affordable Home Swap Scheme, which will mean that for the first time tenants will be able to see details of other tenants in council and housing association homes looking for a mutual exchange – not just in their own area, but across the country.”
Surely he has policy advisors to stop him making such bloopers?
When the world swiftly pointed out his great idea had been implemented when he was still in short trousers, was now fully mature and didn’t need tinkering with he tried to pretend he had something new to add without specifying what. I guess it’ll now be discretely dropped.