New Prime Minister Liz Truss has appointed Middlesbrough-born Simon Clarke as Housing Minister, the fourth MP to hold the post in less than 12 months.
Mr Clarke, 37, most recently served as chief secretary to the treasury. Before then he worked as minister of state at the ministry of housing, communities and local government, where he took on regional growth duties. Clarke follows Robert Jenrick, Michael Gove and Greg Clark, who served in the role since Boris Johnson announced his resignation in July.
Clarke joins the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities from the Treasury, where he has served as chief secretary for the past year, effectively serving as number two to chancellors Rishi Sunak and Nadim Zahawi.
He tweeted last month:
“Building more good homes is a top priority, creating rational incentives and reassurances for communities to embrace them is vital. The cult of top-down targets, however, has become a toxic distraction and Liz Truss is right to say she would scrap them.”
The UK’s planning laws have long been a source for frustration, particularly for house builders. Previous Conservative prime ministers have attempted to tackle the problem, but largely failed. David Cameron’s efforts fell by the wayside, while ambitious plans under Boris Johnson prompted a fierce backlash from his own MPs, partly due to a “mutant algorithm” on housing need.
This suggests Clarke would be in favour of the Truss government dropping the Conservative manifesto pledge of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. This would go against a central call of Building’s sister publication Housing Today’s A Fair Deal for Housing campaign, which is backed by organsations across the housing development sector.
Following his appointment, the privately-educated 37-year-old tweeted:
"It’s a huge honour to be appointed Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Delivering on Levelling Up for communities in all parts of our country, unlocking the homes we need and supporting the economic growth that is so central to Liz Truss's Government is our mission - will give it my all.”