The Treasury chief secretary has been barred from involvement in planning and housing decisions because of his lucrative property interests, he has revealed.
Chris Philp has retained a substantial stake in a group providing loans for developments and is a director of an investment company – despite his promotion to be Kwasi Kwarteng’s deputy.
The Treasury had refused to say whether Mr Philp would be required to sell off his interests, put them in a blind trust or be excluded from discussions on housing policy.
The minister has now said a Whitehall process to establish whether there are any conflicts of interest from his business interests is still being carried out.
But he added: “In the meantime, I’ve been recused from taking decisions that concern basically planning and housing policy. So I don’t take decisions in that area.”
Asked how many properties he owns, the Treasury chief secretary said: “I own two, one in central London and a constituency house in Croydon.
On his involvement with Pluto Finance, Mr Philp told Times Radio: “That’s a business that I set up 12 years ago, which is a finance business and I’m a shareholder in it, but I don’t have anything to do with its day to day management.”
The company provides multimillion pound loans for developments, including for luxury blocks in the City of London whose developers applied for an exemption to avoid having to offer affordable housing.
According to the register of MPs’ interests, Mr Philp has a shareholding of more than 15 per cent and is a partner in Pluto Partners, the ultimate owner of Pluto Finance.
He is also a director of an investment, consultancy and advisory company that he fully owns, called Millgap Ltd.
Mr Philp is understood to consider it to be not actively trading, although it is still registered as active at Companies House and is not recorded as dormant on the MPs’ register of interests.
The minister hit the headlines after the mini-budget, when he celebrated that it had briefly pushed up the value of the pound – moments before it plunged to a 37-year low.
On Sunday, he also revealed that workers will be stripped of rights in firms with fewer than 500 staff, under plans to exploit Brexit to create a more “dynamic” economy.
Asked, last month, about the latest controversy, a government spokesperson said: “The ministerial code sets out the process by which ministers, following their appointment to a new role, should declare and manage their interests, working with their permanent secretary.
“The chief secretary to the Treasury is now going through this process in line with the ministerial code, following his appointment just last week.”