I once met the actress Hayley Mills, the violinist Tasmin Little, and the biggest ‘Luvvie’ of them all, Richard Attenborough. There have been others and I know I’m really nothing but a big ‘groupie’!
The latest object of my desires, however, is rather surprising: Gavin Barwell, the new Housing Minister. Most people outside his immediate family will never have heard of him but last week he spoke about the “moral shame” of homelessness.
He also made a spending commitment that any new duty to prevent homelessness would be fully funded by government, such a commitment unheard in years.
Mr Barwell has now gone a step further in challenging the approach of George Osborne outlined in last year’s Autumn Statement when almost all of the funding available for social housing was earmarked for ownership ‘products’ rather than homes for rent.
Speaking earlier this week (13 September 2016) at a conference in Wales, Mr Barwell said: “We need to build more homes of every single type and not focus on one single tenure”. He went on to say that the country needed “a good, thriving private rented sector”.
I would add that we need more social housing – council and housing association homes.
Earlier in the summer, a House of Lords committee criticised the government’s approach for its failure to build more properties for social rent.
If Mr Barwell was to change government policy a bit more, so that we saw a huge increase in homes with social rents, my love for him would become absolute!
(This item first appeared in the Brighton Argus on 16th September 2016)