Simon Clarke, who has been an MP since 2017, represents Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland and was previously appointed minister of state at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in February 2020.
His predecessor Greg Clark, held the post for just nine weeks.
Aside from the fact Truss has only been PM for a few hours, it’s hard to predict where she will go with housing or if her government will loosen the grip on landlords given her tendency to u-turn on policies.
Shortly following his appointment as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Clarke tweeted, “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 @trussliz’s Government is our mission – will give it my all.
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“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.”
Melanie Leech, chief executive at the British Property Federation, congratulated Clarke, adding: “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.”
However, following years of punitive tax measures against landlords, the NRLA has called on the government to encourage investment in the rental sector to meet rising tenant demand, stating that tax changes such as the restriction of buy-to-let mortgage interest tax relief and the 3% stamp duty surcharge have caused a decline in private rental homes across England.
Ben Beadle, NRLA Chief Executive, said, “The NRLA welcomes Simon Clarke’s appointment as Housing Secretary.
“The new Minister will need urgently to address the rental housing supply crisis. 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. All this is doing is increasing rents, making it more difficult for those wanting to become homeowners.
“The last six years prove that it was nonsense to think that cutting the supply of rental housing when demand is so strong would make it easier for those saving for a home of their own. Driving rents up just leaves tenants with less cash to save for a deposit.
“We need a strong and vibrant private rental market that meets the needs of those who rely on the flexibility it provides, those who need somewhere to live before becoming homeowners and those for whom the promise of social housing tomorrow provides cold comfort today.”
“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.”