Prime Minister carries out Whitehall shake-up as he reshuffles ministers
Four new departments have been created, and Greg Hands is the new Tory Party Chairman
Rishi Sunak has carried out a sweeping shake-up of Whitehall, creating a new department for energy security and net zero amid promises to cut household bills and halve inflation.
The creation of four new Government departments, aimed at boosting economic growth and addressing the energy crisis, marks a major reshaping of some key Government departments.
Mr Sunak also replaced sacked Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi with Greg Hands, who had been trade minister.
“The Government needs to reflect the priorities of the British people and be designed to deliver for them,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
“These changes will focus teams on the issues that will build a better future for our children & grandchildren.”
Downing Street admitted the changes will not be a “silver bullet” to address the problems facing the UK but said the moves have been “worked on for some time”.
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, which will be tasked with securing the UK’s long-term energy supply, will be headed up by Grant Shapps, who had been business secretary.
Mr Shapps tweeted that he was “delighted” to lead the new ministry.
“My focus will be securing our long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and thereby helping to halve inflation,” he said.
Full details of the responsibilities of the new departments are expected to be be set out later on Tuesday, No 10 said.
But Downing Street pointed out that linking energy and net zero more explicitly made sense.
“I think the public will judge us by our actions and our continued approach on net zero,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
“We do think it’s right to more clearly pull out the Government’s focus on that linkage to long-term energy security because the two very much go together.”
Departmental officials were believed to have been largely blindsided by the announcement, which was drawn up by a close circle in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office.
One main element of the reshuffle saw the business, trade and culture departments restructured into four different ministries, bringing with it some changes in Cabinet roles too.
Kemi Badenoch, who was international trade secretary, will now lead the joint Department for Business and Trade.
Lucy Frazer joins the Cabinet as Culture Secretary in a department which has been shorn of its responsibility for digital technology, but will instead focus on the creative arts and sport.
Michelle Donelan moves from culture to the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
Downing Street said that the creation of four new departments would “ensure the right skills and teams are focused on the Prime Minister’s five promises”.
The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology meanwhile will “drive the innovation that will deliver improved public services, create new and better-paid jobs and grow the economy”, while the new Department for Business and Trade will “support growth by backing British businesses at home and abroad”.
Responsibility for the Online Safety Bill, a major piece of Government legislation currently being debated in the House of Lords, will remain with Ms Donelan as she moves to the new department.
Mr Hands, who takes on the role of party chairman ahead of local elections in May, said he is “excited” to get started in his new role.
He tweeted: “I joined the Party in 1986 – a ward chairman in 1992, a councillor in 1998, a Group Leader in 1999, an MP in 2005, a Minister in 2011 – an honour to chair it in 2023!
“The work starts right away.”
The scale of the reform raised questions about the cost of all the changes, with the Liberal Democrats claiming on Tuesday that the shake-up could cost £60 million.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said he did not recognise the figure, but told reporters that “this is about bringing together teams under the priorities of the Prime Minister so we wouldn’t expect there to be significant additional costs to this”.Published: by Radio NewsHub