She is the UK’s third female leader, following in the footsteps of Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May, and the fourth PM in six years.
Everyone is in agreement that she faces a heck of an in-tray, with a huge cost-of-living crisis to try and get on top of as inflation, energy prices and interest rates soar. And, of course, dealing with the death of the UK's longest-reigning monarch and the seismic effect this will have on the nation.
As part of the inevitable reshuffle that occurs whenever a new leader takes office, the previously little-known Simon Clarke has been named as the third Housing Secretary this year, taking over from Greg Clark. Clark himself was only in the role for a matter of months when he took on an effective caretaker role in the aftermath of Michael Gove’s sacking in the final moments of Boris Johnson’s premiership.
In fact, Clarke's brief is somewhat broader than that, as he’s the Secretary of State for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, tasked with implementing one of Johnson’s flagship policies – levelling up the country.
He is young by the standards of most MPs, at only 37, and has been an MP (for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) since 2017. His most recent role was as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and he previously had a brief spell at what was then the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (now DLUHC) before quitting for personal reasons.
A Boris Johnson loyalist, he was a backer of Liz Truss’s campaign from the start and has now been rewarded with a key Cabinet role.
He certainly has quite a lot to contend with, from reform of the PRS and the home buying and selling process to ongoing leasehold, cladding and planning issues, and the mammoth task of levelling up the country while a cost-of-living crisis bites.
What he must also appreciate is his importance as a mouthpiece for the industry, which is one of the UK’s largest and most varied. For too long, property and housing were somewhat neglected at the Cabinet top table, something that has only really started to change in recent years.
Even then, there was criticism when MHCLG was rebranded as DLUHC, which some saw as a relegation of housing once more.
To his credit, Michael Gove – despite being a divisive and flawed figure – did use his years of top-level government experience and nous to get things done. The White Paper on rental reform was finally released on his watch, some progress on leasehold reform was made, and changes to upfront information on property listings was introduced.
Gove was known as a very effective Whitehall operator, and it will be a challenge for Clarke to ensure housing and property gets as much of a hearing in Truss’s cabinet.
The new PM has only mentioned housing in passing since getting the top job, and barely mentioned it all during her leadership contest, which is leading to some concerns that housing will become too much of an after-thought again.
It’s crucial that this doesn’t happen. The property industry is a huge beast, providing lots of jobs and a boost to the economy. It’s been one of the best-performing sectors in recent years, in spite of Brexit, Covid and now the cost-of-living crisis. It’s far from perfect, of course, but its great value shouldn’t be underestimated.
A properly functioning housing market and property sector is vital to the happiness and wellbeing of the population. For many, home is a sanctuary, the place they feel safest. Housing is a basic right that should never be used as a political football.
Our sector is also one where tech and innovation is thriving, and should be used as a blueprint by the new PM on how to ensure Britain is a leader on the world stage again.
For too long, the positions of Housing Secretary and Housing Minister have been something of a merry-go-round. Let’s hope this latest appointment might change that, even if all recent evidence suggests otherwise.
It’s official – I’m a property influencer! I think the kind people at Art Division might have made a mistake, but I was delighted to be included in the same esteemed company as the likes of Ed Mead, Sarah Beeny, Sarah Edmundson, Paul Shamplina, Jon Cooke, Phil and Kirstie, Henry Pryor, Kate Faulkner and James Dearsley.
Influencing has perhaps picked up a bad name in recent years, thanks to various controversies on social media, but our goal with EAT and the other Today sites has always been to influence the industry in a positive way by providing all the latest breaking news to readers, keeping them updated, informed and educated. As well as entertained, of course.
Equally, the goal with The ValPal Network has been to influence agents in a positive way by improving the vendor and landlord leads they get, and creating a suite of products that enables agents to make the absolute most of these leads.
I get the credit above, but none of this would be possible without the great team around me at both Angels Media and ValPal, as well as the fantastic freelancers we work with. The secret of success is to get great people around you, something that Liz Truss will find crucial if she is to succeed in her new job. Without a fantastic team, it’s impossible to get anywhere. I’m sure all the other influencers in the list would agree with that sentiment.
A quick question to all you Natter readers. Have you ever seen new Foxtons CEO Guy Gittins, who officially started in his new role this week, and OnTheMarket CEO Jason Tebb in the same room? You’ll see what I mean below.
That’s all from me this week. Until next time…
*Nat Daniels is CEO of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. Follow him on Twitter @NatDaniels.