With so many changes taking place in Parliament, it can be taxing to keep up.

Simon Clarke, an MP since 2017, has been appointed Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and now replaces Greg Clark who was actively in his role for just eight weeks.

Clarke paid tribute to his short-term predecessor.

 He said: “There are real achievements, from the new homelessness strategy to the new East Midlands Mayoralty – but more than that, he has led the Department with his customary good humour, tact and intelligence.”

He described the outgoing Secretary of State as “a class act.”

Whether you agree with that statement or not, we look at what the property industry should be aware of as the Housing Secretary tackles his new role.

A bit of background

Previously Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Clarke returns to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities where he was a minister in February 2020.

Currently the youngest member of Truss’s cabinet, Clarke, 37, became the sixth person to fill the role since 2018. He has openly backed Truss’s opposition to top-down building targets and has described housebuilding targets as a “toxic distraction.”

A vociferous supporter of Liz Truss during the conservative party leadership contest, he tweeted: “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.”

Clarke has also thrown his support behind the government’s stamp duty holiday during the pandemic, and claimed it was “the right thing to do to make sure we did not see a collapse of the market.”

Clarke commented, following his appointment: “It’s a huge honour to be appointed Secretary of State.

“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 the government is our mission.  I will give it my all.”

“This is a department that I know really well, and which I am so looking forward to returning to – the commitment and expertise of officials there on themes as diverse as homelessness, building safety and devolution is second to none.”

A housing crisis looming and pressure from the industry

The property industry has welcomed the new Housing Secretary, however, with so many issues existing within the sector, Clarke has his work cut out.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), has stipulated that the new minister will need to urgently address the rental housing supply crisis, saying: “Damaging tax hikes and uncertainty over reforms to the private rented sector are leading many landlords to leave the market when demand for rented homes remains high,” he pointed out.

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

The NRLA has recently called for government to review the rental reform White Paper, which will ensure the strategies outlined in them have the full confidence of responsible landlords – a statement reiterated by Beadle when he said: “Damaging tax hikes and uncertainty over reforms to the private rented sector are leading many landlords to leave the market when demand for rented homes remains high,” he pointed out. “All this is doing is increasing rents, making it more difficult for those wanting to become homeowners”, he stated.   

Melanie Leech, chief executive at the British Property Federation also congratulated Simon Clarke on his new role and she’s looking forward to working with him, saying: “He will play a critical role in the Prime Minister’s plans to ‘deliver, deliver, deliver’, with levelling up, housing supply and carbon reduction all vital to the UK’s future prosperity and global competitiveness.”

“We stand ready to work with the Secretary of State to unlock billions of pounds of property investment that will transform places across the UK, and we urge him to take decisive action quickly, the clock is ticking.”

If you’d still like some more guidance, here at Key Property Consultants, our team of experts can help you. We operate in South East London and Kent, with offices in Penge and Welling.

You can contact us today to find out more. If you would like an idea of what your home could be worth on the current market, why not check out our free and instant online valuation tool.

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