REVEALED: MPs Working Second Jobs in Property Industry ‘Clear Conflict of Interest’
Rishi Sunak ‘needs to deal with the issue of moonlighting MPs once and for all’, the Labour Party told Byline Times
Sign up for our weekly Behind the Headlines email and get a free copy of Byline Times posted to you
Twelve MPs worked in jobs worth as much as £268,700 a year in 2022 that were tied to the property and development industries, Byline Times can reveal, in what has been called “a clear conflict of interest” by housing campaigners.
They warned that it “was clear that sections of the property industry have a big influence on Government policy”.
Conservative backbencher Andrew Lewer has held a variety of roles for a hotel chain and a property development firm, worth £1,150 a month, as well as being paid to appear on a panel by a property and mortgage finance firm. On 30 January, he wrote an article for The House magazine, in which he advocated for cutting taxes on the sector that had “made life more costly for landlords”.
Fellow Tory backbencher Gary Streeter took a £31,500 a year role as a non-executive director for RentPlus, a company that develops homes for a rent-to-buy model whereby tenants can eventually purchase the homes they rent. In December 2020, RentPlus was forced by a tribunal to pay £60,000 to a female executive who had been a victim of sexual discrimination at the company.
Overall, some 17% of MPs in the current Parliament are landlords themselves – earning a minimum of £2.6 million a year in income between them. Meanwhile, previous investigations have found that around 20% of all donations made to the Conservative Party – worth some £60 million – came from property tycoons between 2010 and 2020.
Byline Times has previously covered three of the MPs in question – Conservatives Stephen McPartland, Caroline Dinenage and Mike Penning – while investigating the MPs who worked for major party donors.
Of the two Conservative donor companies that McPartland took work for last year, one of them – MBU Capital Group – is a London-based financial firm which invests in “national resources, education, cannabis/CBD and real estate”. The £625 an hour role has previously faced questions after McPartland opposed plans to build affordable housing in his constituency, but then backed a multi-million-pound property development by MBU.
Penning, a former Armed Forces Minister, took a £34,992 a year role for JT Consultancy, the owner of which, Jan Telensky, is a property tycoon and Conservative donor. The relationship between the duo has been a subject of controversy in the past. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on his part.
While Dinenage’s £30,000 a year role for LNT Care Developments Group did not concern conventional housing, the care home group is a major developer and builder of care homes.
“Considering the findings that there are 12 MPs with second jobs in the property industry, previous revelations that 20% of Tory Party donations come from property tycoons and that there are at least 110 MPs who are landlords themselves, is it any wonder that the Government has been dragging its feet on promised and urgently needed reform for the private enteral sector for four years now?,” Nick Ballard, head organiser at renters union ACORN, told Byline Times.
“It’s a clear conflict of interest for these individual MPs, and it’s clear that sections of the property industry have a big influence on Government policy.”
Siobhan Donnachie, of the London Renters Union, said: “How can we prevent renters being pushed into poverty and homelessness when many of the people who are supposed to represent us profit off of the housing crisis? It is a clear conflict of interest that MPs who have voted against renters’ rights have a financial stake in the property industry. Millions of people live in poor-quality or dangerous housing, while rents rise at record levels, pushing up evictions across the country.”
The revelations come amid growing concern over the ability of the Government to act to protect UK renters. Several groups cited its failure to pass the Renters Reform Bill, which would ban ‘no-fault evictions’, a measure it first proposed back in 2019.
Don’t Miss a Story
Some of the 12 MPs in question were working for firms connected to the industry but not necessarily with a wholesale vested interest in Government policy. Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke, for example, worked for the New Homes Quality Board, which works in conjunction with government to create a framework for improving quality in the house-building industry.
A spokesperson for Liberal Democrat MP Helen Morgan stressed that all payments she received from property firm Grocott Developments related to work done before her by-election victory in 2019 and that Morgan had “no interest in taking” a second job.
Other MPs did not respond to a request for comment.
Anneliese Dodds, Labour Party Chair, told Byline Times: “If Rishi Sunak is to ever honour his promise of honesty, integrity and accountability, and extract his party from this constant quagmire of sleaze, he needs to deal with the issue of moonlighting MPs once and for all.
“There is no reason why a serving constituency MP needs to make thousands and thousands of pounds as a consultant or lobbying on behalf of businesses. It’s bad for their constituents and damages public trust in politicians.
“Labour tried to ban dodgy second jobs over a year ago but the Conservatives lined up to vote for a watered down cop-out. Rishi Sunak needs to deal with this issue urgently.”
The data was based on filings to the MPs’ register of financial interests last December.
OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU
Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.
New to Byline Times? Find out more about us
SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION
A new type of newspaper – independent, fearless, outside the system. Fund a better media.
Don’t miss a story! Sign up to our newsletter (and get a free edition posted to you)
Our leading investigations include: empire & the culture war, Brexit, crony contracts, Russian interference, the Coronavirus pandemic, democracy in danger, and the crisis in British journalism. We also introduce new voices of colour in Our Lives Matter.