Construction industry reacts as Liz Truss becomes PM

New prime minister Liz Truss is rumoured to be favouring Jacob Rees-Mogg and Simon Clarke for key positions in her new Cabinet after winning the Tory leadership election.

Truss won the leadership contest with 57 per cent of the votes cast and is set to pick her new cabinet in the coming days.

She will be sworn in as PM on Wednesday after meeting the Queen in Balmoral, Scotland, tomorrow.

Key cabinet positions for the construction industry include current business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng moving into the role of chancellor.

As a Truss supporter, Kwarteng has been earmarked for the senior role and will oversee both the implementation of any new support for energy bills as well as drawing up what is expected to be an emergency budget.

According to The Times, Simon Clarke is being lined up to take over from Greg Clarke at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), with Jacob Rees-Mogg rumoured to be a candidate for the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) brief.

However, the New Statesman has mooted Simon Clarke as the PM’s top choice for business secretary, having supported Truss’s tax-cutting plans during the leadership election.

In Transport, incumbent Grant Shapps is widely expected to be moved on, with The Telegraph tipping Kemi Badenoch as a possible replacement.

Federation of Master Builders chief executive Brian Berry highlighted the importance of addressing the energy crisis for the new PM.

Berry said: “This dire and unsustainable situation requires immediate commitment to a long-term national retrofit plan to insulate our 29 million homes to cut energy consumption and reduce bills. Liz Truss has a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform our existing homes to help ensure everyone has a place they can afford to heat.”

Stephen Marcos Jones, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, said the country needed clarity on policy.

“We know inflation, rising energy prices and wages are already severely impacting the short to medium term outlook for our sector, and we look forward to seeing how businesses will be supported in these areas through the challenging months ahead,” Jones said.

“Investment in our national infrastructure, and the construction industry more widely, is crucial to weathering any potential economic storm. It will ensure we maintain a long-term view on the economy and invest in a sector which can provide jobs and growth.”

Caroline Gumble, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), hopes the new PM can stop the merry-go-round of housing and construction ministers in recent years. She said: “The appointment of a housing minister and construction minister for the long term will go a long way in helping improve the consistency and collaboration the industry desperately needs and strengthen the excellent collaboration that has been achieved through the Construction Leadership Council…

“The levelling up agenda provides significant opportunities for the construction sector, through local job creation and stability, while property retrofit schemes to improve energy efficiency for example, will further boost the sector and go some way to helping residents mitigate rising energy costs.”

Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) director of operations Marie-Claude Hemming said the association hoped the new PM can “hit the ground running”.

She said: “The current fiscal outlook is challenging. Nonetheless we call on the new government to hold its nerve in the face of the current economic headwinds, and commit to existing programmes of investment, to project jobs and ensure market confidence.”

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