Pennycook appointed as housing department minister

Labour has appointed its former housing and planning minister as a junior minister in the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The news comes after Angela Rayner was confirmed on Friday (5 June) as housing secretary, where she will oversee Labour’s manifesto pledge to build 1.5 million homes over the next parliament.

Matthew Pennycook, MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, served as shadow housing and planning minister while in opposition.

While it seems likely that he will take this brief into government, the department has not yet officially confirmed his new responsibilities.

Pennycook will be joined as a junior minister by Jim McMahon, MP for Oldham West and Royton, who was previously shadow minister for English devolution and local government.

Rayner, the MP for Ashton-under-Lyne who was reelected with a majority of 7,000, continues the post of secretary of state for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) that she held in the shadow cabinet.

Rayner has indicated a commitment to new social and affordable housing, pledging in May to announce a series of new towns within the first year of government, setting up a taskforce to identify the right sites.

She takes over from Michael Gove, who did not contest his seat in the election. Gove held the role for nearly two years, during which he gave local authorities more power to reject housebuilding in the greenbelt, made developers commit to remediating fire safety defects and mandated second staircases in buildings higher than 18 metres from 2026.

Meanwhile, Louise Haigh now heads the transport department, while former Labour leader Ed Miliband was appointed energy secretary.

Jonathan Reynolds became business secretary and Douglas Alexander a minister of state in the Department for Business and Trade. The construction portfolio vacated by departing Conservative MP Alan Mak has not yet been allocated.

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