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Barwell is building his reputation as well as homes

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LGC’s essential daily briefing

Oxford Dictionaries declared “post-truth” to be its international word of the year last month.

After an unprecedented year in politics (and that’s saying something) post-truth rose to prominence, first through the European Union referendum campaign and then the US presidential election.

An adjective, post-truth was defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

Based on that definition one could argue post-truth politics has featured fairly prominently for a lot longer than 12 months or so…

In such a world it is perhaps unsurprising that prime minister Theresa May is reportedly a “details person” who struggles to delegate decisions - the fact there have not been many new policy announcements in the five months since she took charge somewhat backs that up.

One policy area which has attracted attention, though, is housing. And in housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell the prime minister has a man aligned with her way of thinking.

Appearing before the London Assembly yesterday Mr Barwell said he was “very passionate” about making sure he had “good data” on which to take decisions in his job.

“Policy needs to be evidence driven,” he said.

If the sector needed proof that Mr Barwell looks at the evidence then perhaps we need look no further than his decisions on scrapping pay to stay and delaying the national roll-out of the controversial extended right-to-buy to housing association tenants.

Yesterday he even acknowledged councils building homes for social rent (yes, really) had a role to play in tackling the housing crisis following references from an assembly member to local authorities’ role in the housebuilding boom of the 1950s and 1960s.

In the relatively short period Mr Barwell has overseen housing and planning policy, he has demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of his brief while London Assembly chair Tony Arbour (Con) was somewhat taken aback by the way the minister was “actually answering the questions” members had put to him with “no filibustering”.

While Sajid Javid might be communities secretary, Mr Barwell is not just driving home building but rapidly building his reputation as well. 

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