Kris Hopkins was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at Department of Communities and Local Government on 7 October. With particular responsibility for housing, local growth, regeneration and wind farm policy – not to mention ‘troubled families’ – he’s set to be a busy man.
Mr Hopkins served with the Army before being elected to Bradford Council in 1998. He was quickly appointed to the Council’s Housing portfolio and then as Leader of the Council in 2006 (a role previously held by his new boss, Eric Pickles). Mr Hopkins was elected as MP for Keighley in Yorkshire in 2010. In Parliament he has been a Conservative loyalist with the only notable rebellions against the party line being on the Same Sex Marriage Bill.
Mr Hopkins takes over the ministerial responsibility from Mark Prisk who had held the position from 2012. In an apparent demotion of the role, Mr Hopkins is an Under-Secretary of State (otherwise known as a junior minister), the lowest ranked of government positions. His predecessor was Minister of State, which while in this case not a Cabinet position, was at least on the Government payroll. Given the current centrality of housing policy in the run up to the election and the controversy around Help to Buy, this will likely raise some eyebrows in both the housing sector and across Parliament.
As part of Ed Milliband’s reshuffle, Emma Reynolds, the former Shadow Europe minister, has been moved to Shadow Housing, replacing Jack Dromey. Ms Reynolds will attend Shadow Cabinet meetings and has been critical of the apparent downgrade to her opposite number, saying it is surprising when housing is one of the most important issues facing the country.
First elected in 2010 as MP for Wolverhampton North East, Ms Reynolds is an ultra-loyalist – she has never voted against the Labour leadership in Parliament. She also appears to be taking the well-trodden policy wonk to career politician route – prior to being elected she worked in the European Parliament for the Party of European Socialists and as an adviser to both the late Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and former the Europe Minister Geoff Hoon.