Middlesbrough-born Brexiteer becomes fourth MP to hold post in less than a year

Simon Clarke has been appointed as the new housing secretary

Clarke becomes the fourth MP to hold the post in less than a year, following Robert Jenrick, Michael Gove and Greg Clark. Greg Clark only took up the role in July after Boris Johnson sacked Gove, but returned to the backbenches yesterday.

simon clarke

New housing secretary Simon Clarke

A Brexiteer, Simon 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.

Clarke grew up near Middlesbrough in the North east, and in 2017 was elected as the first ever Conservative MP for the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency. He has spoken about the importance of building homes in areas of the country outside the south east, with a focus on home ownership.

In July he tweeted “If we do not build the homes we need, where we need them, it will be a disaster for the Conservatives, but much more importantly it will be a disaster for generations of people who will not be able to own a good home.”

See also>> What the housing development sector wants from Liz Truss

Clarke has spoken in support of planning reforms and was one of a limited number of MPs to publicly back the 2020 planning reforms contained in the Planning for Future white paper.

These reforms, which would have seen see councils given set housing targets and told to zone areas which would then grant automatic planning permission to developers, were eventually ditched. The reforms were cited by many experts as a major factor in the Conservatives’ loss in the 2021 Chesham and Amersham by-election.

The 37-year old has however, voiced his opposition to ‘top-down’ housing targets, echoing the views of Truss, who he supported in the Conservative leadership election.

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.”

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 Housing Today’s A Fair Deal for Housing campaign, which is backed by organsiations across the housing development sector.

Mr Clarke has spoken of the importance of net zero and tackling climate change. In September 2018, he organised a letter to the government – which was signed by more than 130 cross-party MPs – in support of delivering net zero carbon emissions by 2050.