So Who Is Kris Hopkins?

So just who is Kris Hopkins?

His website is “just being rebuilt” so that gives us little help. His Wikipedia entry says Hopkins - an experienced politician who, like Eric Pickles, is a former leader of Bradford Council - became MP for Keighley in Yorkshire in 2010.

He was a private in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and, upon leaving the army, he was a media studies graduate and became a lecturer in media theory, communications and digital media. This background may lead to the occasional raised eyebrow in the property business given that he replaces Mark Prisk, who was a qualified surveyor and became a respected - if rather low profile - housing minister.

Conservative Home, the right-wing lobbying website, says Prisk’s ‘problem’ was an apparent reluctance to undertake media interviews. Prisk’s career demise, incidentally, was announced by the man himself in a refreshingly honest tweet. "Been asked to step aside from housing to make way for a younger generation. Disappointing but it's been a great 11 years on frontbencher [sic]."

Prisk’s departure has been greeted with disappointment amongst those in the property industry who regarded him as informed, authoritative and largely non-partisan (although, like many Conservatives, he came across as being in awe of volume house builders).

His sacking is the biggest of several changes in political personnel this week, all with consequences for the residential property industry.

Another DCLG junior minister, Liberal Democrat Don Foster, has been moved to become the party’s chief whip. Meanwhile Greg Clark - previously a planning minister and the man credited with much of the design of the NPPF - is new Treasury minister with responsibility for construction. The previous construction minister, Tory Chloe Smith, resigned this week after a period in office which some believe showed she was too inexperienced for the job.

It is perhaps odd that government policies on housing - which have been considered by many to have been something of a success, at least compared to other activities - have nonetheless led to many front line politicians effectively ending their ministerial careers.

Labour, meanwhile, has sacked Jack Dromey (who received only mixed reviews as shadow housing minister) and replaced him with Emma Reynolds, a former lobbyist and political adviser, elected in 2010 and most recently serving as shadow Europe minister.

Critically, she will attend shadow cabinet - whereas Hopkins will not attend cabinet.

All in all, it appears a political downgrade for the significance of housing in government. The irony in this is clear, as housing is now at the top of the political agenda for the public if not for politicians.

But we are only 18 months from a general election and in some ways the campaign seems to have started already: so we may be back to a period where the emphasis is on the perception of action being taken, rather than on using people and ability.

If you would like to to comment on this article, click HERE to e-mail Graham. Follow PropertyJourn on Twitter