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Simon Clarke appointed housing secretary in new PM’s cabinet

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  • 07/09/2022
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Simon Clarke appointed housing secretary in new PM’s cabinet
A tale of one Clarke in and one Clark out as Simon Clarke (pictured) is appointed as the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities following a reshuffling of the cabinet under new prime minister Liz Truss. Incumbent Greg Clark steps down.

Clark was in the role from July to September. He was appointed after several MPs stepped down or were sacked ahead of calls for former prime minister Boris Johnson’s resignation. 

Marcus Jones, who was appointed shortly after Clark in July, currently remains the housing minister. 

Clarke has become the fourth housing secretary in 12 months. At 37, he is also the youngest cabinet member. 

 

Many problems, much under-delivery 

Kate Davies, executive director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), said Clarke’s appointment meant the country had seen more than 20 housing ministers since the turn of the century. 

She added: “We have seen so many promises from successive governments on how they will improve housing supply, and so much under-delivery, that Mr Clarke will have his work cut out for him in days to come.  

“We urgently need more housing stock to help younger generations in the UK become first-time buyers and start building up equity for a stable financial future, not to mention having a home they can truly call theirs. We also need much more public sector housing – and greater recognition of the essential role of the private rented sector in filling many of the gaps currently left by the dearth of public sector stock.” 

She said: “To do this, we need a coherent long-term strategy that can last longer than the span of a single government. We look forward to seeing the measures which Mr Clarke proposes.” 

Nick Leeming, chairman of estate agency Jackson-Stops, added: “While Simon Clarke’s appointment as housing secretary makes him the 13th MP to have held the role in 12 years, the property industry will be hoping that it won’t be an unlucky move.

“Already vocal on many issues facing the housing market in the short and long term, Mr Clarke has publicly supported regeneration projects in the north, a commitment to building new homes and achieving net zero. How he moves a busy housing agenda forward in an increasingly challenging macro environment is where the market needs answers.

 

Attention to the private rental sector 

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), said Clarke “urgently” needed to address the rental housing supply crisis. 

Reiterating comments he made to the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities committee earlier this week, Beadle said “damaging tax hikes and uncertainty over reforms” were leading to landlords exiting the sector. 

“All this is doing is increasing rents, making it more difficult for those wanting to become homeowners.  

“The government needs to look afresh at the rental reform White Paper to ensure the plans in it have the confidence of responsible landlords. This needs to include action to tackle anti-social tenants, scrapping plans that would damage the student housing market, and reforming the courts to ensure legitimate possession cases are dealt with more swiftly,” he added. 

 

Build more houses 

Nick Sanderson, CEO of retirement property developer Audley Group, asked the new housing secretary to look beyond empty promises and build more houses. 

He said: “The bonfire of the housing secretaries continues, with another new kid on the block in Simon Clarke. Let’s hope the fourth housing secretary in a year can last a little longer than his predecessors and actually effect some much-needed change.  

“First on that list should be better alignment of housing and health, to look at holistic solutions which have far-reaching implications. Building more specialist housing would free up existing family homes, take pressure off the NHS and social care systems, and importantly give older people suitable and aspirational housing that adapts to their changing needs.” 

Sanderson added: “I urge Mr Clarke to look beyond the empty promises to build more houses, and consider how to better use the homes that already exist. More housing has never been the problem. The government’s focus has to shift to specialist housing, and fast. It’s never going to be greener to build more, when the solution is to build smart.” 

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