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Javid: New name will focus minds of cabinet colleagues on housing

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The communities secretary has claimed renaming his department the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government will help to “focus” the minds of his cabinet colleagues on the task of building more homes.

Sajid Javid said the departmental policy leads for housing and social care had not changed – the Department for Health has been renamed the Department for Health & Social Care following this week’s reshuffle.

In his first speech after retaining his role, Mr Javid said on Tuesday: “Having a ministry for housing that is so clearly defined gets my colleagues around the cabinet table all focussed on the challenge at hand.

“The prime minister has previously said that housing was Britain’s number one domestic priority, but many departments were not taking housing seriously enough historically.”

When asked how his new title change would help achieve the government’s aim of building 300,000 houses a year, Mr Javid said the title helped “focus” the other departments’ attention on the importance of building houses.

“We need to work with other departments like the Treasury, DCMS and the transport department on building more homes - it has to be a cross-government endeavour.”

Mr Javid, who reiterated building homes is his “number one priority”, was speaking at the Local Government Association’s finance conference.

In the five years to 2020, councils will have had access to £200bn funding, said Mr Javid who added he wanted to give local authorities “greater freedom to raise and retain revenue”.

Mr Javid said the fair funding review is a means to give councils the “confidence” to face the challenges of the future.

“It’s not just a paper exercise, it’s going to be used to create a whole new system, one that more fairly reflects modern needs,” he said, and added that he wanted the new system in place by 2021 but possibly a year earlier.

Mr Javid referenced the 10 business rates pilot areas announced in the finance settlement and added he has a “plan to do more piloting in 2019 to 2020”.

He said the ministry is “developing fair and affordable options for dealing with” areas set to experience negative revenue support grant by the end of the decade and will formally consult on proposals in the spring.

Mr Javid acknowledged “the challenge of social care is not going to go away” and added “long-term systemic change” is needed.

“I very much hope that this summer’s green paper on future challenges within adult social care will set us on the path to securing that,” he said.

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