Who is Marcus Jones, the new politician warming the seat at the Ministry of Housing?
Jones has sat in Parliament as the MP for Nuneaton, Warwickshire, since May 2010 without managing to set Westminster on fire.
Before housing, Jones was a Tory whip.
He was appointed housing minister on July 8 2022, following the resignation of Stuart Andrew.
Few expect Jones to survive the Tory leadership contest as the incoming prime minister will want to appoint their cabinet. The MP has had his brush with sleaze in a probe that examined his election expense claims.
Lack of evidence
The Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS) decided his expense reports were irregular but lacked the evidence to trigger a prosecution.
Jones is the 12th MP to hold the office of housing minister since the Tories came to power with David Cameron in May 2010.
Most of the ministers holding the housing portfolio have had mixed career prospects after their time in the role.
Although the job title may change, here’s the complete list of Tory housing ministers since May 2010 with a rundown of where they are now:
|Minister||Appointed||Left||Days in office|
The average time in office for a Tory modern-day housing minister is 370 days.
The longest-serving housing minister was the first – Grant Shapps – appointed in May 2010, shortly after Cameron’s celebrated LibDem Alliance general election victory. Shapps served 845 days, or 19 per cent of the time since his appointment.
Shapps was promoted to Conservative Party chairman and minister without portfolio, moving on to Minister for International Development in 2015. He stood down after accusations of bullying. Currently, Shapps is Transport Secretary.
Shapps lined up in the leadership bid to succeed Boris Johnson but dropped out within a few days.
Stuart Andrew was incumbent as housing minister for the shortest time – 181 days. He assumed office after holding several minor government roles in the Whip’s office. Andrew was appointed minister for prisons and probation after resigning from his housing role.
Safe pair of hands?
After the crumbling of Boris Johnson’s administration, Jones is the caretaker ‘safe’ pair of hands.
But housing is part of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, with Greg Clark sitting in Michael Gove’s still warm chair as Secretary of State.
Clark served in a similar post for David Cameron but has been left holding several hot potatoes, including the high-rise building safety crisis following the Grenfell Tower disaster, renting reform, an overhaul of the leasehold system and social housing regulation.
And the hottest potato of them all is about to drop into his in-tray – extending the right to buy to housing association renters.
Johnson’s latest wheeze
Don’t forget Johnson’s latest wheeze for mortgage borrowers – lifetime mortgages. The prime minister briefed journalists recently about his plans for lifetime mortgages which families can hand down to children and grandchildren.
These mortgages may help home buyers by reducing payments and increasing the amount they – can borrow, although the plan may have a built-in loophole to avoid inheritance tax.
Perhaps the most notorious recent housing minister is Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher, the government whip accused of groping Johnson’s handling of the allegations, including his infamous ‘I forgot’ excuse when confronted with Pincher’s earlier excesses eventually led to the prime minister’s resignation and election of a new Conservative leader.
Tories hope the leadership election will wipe the board clean of sleaze allegations and that a squeaky clean new leader will persuade voters that the lying and deceit have ended.
No joined-up housing policy
Despite the Tory big guns like Brandon Lewis, Dominic Raab and Esther McVey having input, the Tories have done little to improve the number of houses under construction. The ministers have chalked up what they see as some victories in the political sense, such as scrapping tenant fees on renting a home and changing how landlords work out their taxable profits with the abolition of mortgage interest relief.
But there is no sign of a joined-up policy to mend Torie’s term ‘the broken housing market’.
And who is likely to move to the Ministry of Housing once the leadership election is resolved later in the year?
No one knows if the new leader will follow Johnson’s call to fix the housing crisis by appointing a radical minister with new policies or treat the post as a backwater to reward a supportive colleague.