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New Government needs to focus on the same challenges – improving the process and cutting down aborted transactions

Well, it’s certainly been a whirlwind period over the last week or so, as the General Election result heralds a new Labour Government, and with it, a series of changes and announcements all designed to get them on the front foot, and to be seen to be delivering the change that many people clearly voted for.

In our part of the Governmental landscape – as we might have anticipated – change has been swift, not least in terms of the Government Department which we have engaged with most in recent years.

It will now be known as the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government having dropped the ‘Levelling Up’ moniker which was such a feature of the Conservative Party’s agenda over the last five years, even if there was much discussion about what levelling up was actually achieved during that period.

We – presumably – will now be using MHCLG as the abbreviation, and while this might not seem the most important change, it is notable for what it no longer includes.

Of course, we also have a new Ministerial Team, with the Deputy Prime Minister, Angela Rayner, heading up the department and Matthew Pennycook appointed the Housing Minister within it, having shadowed that position since 2021.

In that regard, we should be hopeful we have an individual who understands the brief and perhaps we can also be hopeful that we do not see the previous merry-go-round of Housing Ministers that we have got used to over the last couple of decades.

Given the new Labour Government has already ‘gone big’ on housing announcements – reintroducing housing targets in England, recommitting to 1.5 million of new homes over the next Parliament and committing to change the planning regime in order to get these homes built – it would seem like something of a serious mis-step if we are sitting here in five years’ time discussing numerous Housing Ministers, rather than having a stable picture, which I’m sure we would all want.

Which leads me onto the CA’s Agenda, and what we would like to see from the new Government, particularly in light of an immediate review of the situation in which we are told there is not a lot of money to spend.

However, there is clearly an opportunity for some immediate quick-wins in housing via an improvement to the home buying and selling process, and perhaps in other areas such as leasehold, not forgetting improvements in digital processes which are likely to make the conveyancing process that much easier for both member firms and consumers using their services.

We’ve always felt that improving the home buying and selling process was a cross-party issue, one that could be delivered by whichever party won power, and that feeling/belief has not changed with the election of this Labour Government.

They will be acutely aware of what a fully-functioning housing market can deliver to UK plc, and cutting down the time it takes to get transactions to completion will clearly help greatly in that regard, not just generating increased taxation, but income for all property market stakeholders and, as we know, helping generating a range of economic activity that comes out of people buying/moving homes.

Given the Government has talked a lot about the need for generating economic growth, a much quicker transaction pipeline moving faster should certainly appeal, particularly as one presumes it is not going to cost a whole heap of taxpayer’s money to deliver.

Clearly, we’ll be engaging on our members’ behalf on how we can best introduce this, and how we ease the burden on conveyancers who, for too long, have seen their responsibilities rise exponentially, which has clearly had an impact on the work required, the resources needed, and the process itself.

Smoothing out the process, and ensuring all conveyancers are working in the same vein, should help us all. And, even if conveyancers still have to work at the speed of the slowest firm in the chain, if everyone is mandated to act/work as we would wish, that the improvements should be visible right across the process.

We’ll continue to make the case for this on our members’ behalf, and keep you fully informed of the progress we make, and the benefits we believe it can, and will, deliver to all.

Nicky Heathcote is Non-Executive Chair at the Conveyancing Association (CA)


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