Newly appointed business secretary and outgoing construction minister Kwasi Kwarteng has thanked the UK construction sector for “making a hugely valued and critical contribution to our country”, after Anne-Marie Trevelyan was unveiled as the latest in the long-line of UK construction ministers
Kwarteng thanked the industry in an open letter, one of his first actions after being appointed as secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy at the end of last week.
Kwarteng’s new role follows the appointment of former business secretary Alok Sharma as full-time president of the UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow this November, with Kwarteng stepping up to replace Sharma as secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.
The subsequent reshuffling of ministerial responsibilities means the construction industry has yet another minister to deal with on a day-to-day basis as the UK looks to build back better as a vital part of the post-Covid recovery, with Anne-Marie Trevelyan handed the construction brief as part of her new role as minister of state for business, energy and clean growth.
As construction minister, she will also continue in her role as the UK’s international champion on adaptation and resilience for the COP26 presidency, supporting countries vulnerable to climate change to adapt to its impacts and build resilience.
Trevelyan has served as MP for Berwick-on-Tweed since 2015 and has previously served as secretary of state for international development and on the public accounts committee. Prior to joining parliament, she worked as a chartered accountant.
Trevelyan has become the latest in a long line of construction ministers, just a month after her predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng took up the role. At just one month, Kwarteng’s stint in the role is the shortest in history, beating fellow Conservative Lord Henley who held it from October 2017 to January 2018. Kwarteng only became construction minister on 10 December last year, when previous construction minister Nadhim Zahawi was given responsibility for overseeing England’s vaccine roll-out.
Kwarteng’s predecessor Zahawi was named construction minister in August 2019 having replaced Andrew Stephenson, now HS2 minister, who in turn held the job for just three months, taking over from Richard Harrington in April of the same year.
In his open letter to the construction industry, Kwarteng said: “As the new business secretary, I would like to take this opportunity to restate the government position, which is that firms and tradespeople in the construction sector and its supply chain, including merchants, suppliers and product manufacturers, should continue to operate during this national lockdown.
“It is vital that construction continues through these unsettling times and I want to reassure you that the government values the crucial contribution your sector is making. Whether delivering on large or small construction sites, and in peoples' homes across the country, in builders' merchants, designing and project managing schemes or producing construction and mineral products, you are making a major contribution to the economic recovery following Covid-19.”