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Amber Rudd to return as work and pensions secretary

Former home secretary Amber Rudd is set to return to the cabinet as work and pensions secretary, according to reports.

The appointment follows the departure of Esther McVey yesterday over her refusal to back the government’s draft Brexit deal.

According to reports, Rudd, a remainer, was offered the job after environment secretary Michael Gove spent 24 hours weighing up whether or not to resign from his post as well.

The Press Association has confirmed Rudd’s work and pensions appointment, but Number 10 has yet to make an official announcement.

Rudd was in the cabinet until April, when her handling of the Windrush scandal and inadvertently misleading MPs over illegal immigrant removal targets led to her departure.

Pensions experts expressed concern after McVey’s exit that the continuing rotation in the pensions secretary and junior ministerial jobs would not help secure sensible long-term policymaking.

A statement on Rudd’s website shows that she is a supporter of the pensions dashboard, but believes there should not be any transitional arrangements to help women born in the 1950s who have seen their state pension age increase, as represented by the Women Against State Pension Inequality or Waspi campaign.

“Equalising the state pension age was necessary to ensure the state pension remained sustainable, and to reflect our modern economy and society,” she writes. “The Pensions Act 1995 legislated for this to be done gradually after 2010. Following sharp increases in life expectancy projections, the government had to accelerate this process slightly in the Pensions Act 2011 to secure the sustainability of the system.”

“Higher life expectancy does mean that as a society we will have to adjust to slightly longer working lives, but it is right to ensure at the same time that people have security and dignity when they do retire.”

AJ Bell senior analyst Tom Selby says: “Right now domestic pensions policy issues are probably a long way from Amber Rudd’s mind as Westminster lurches from on Brexit crisis to another.

“However, once the dust has settled she will find a department facing challenges on a number of fronts.

“For Rudd it is very much a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire. Having left the Home Office – a department still dealing with the fallout from the Windrush scandal – Rudd will now have to defend the government’s Universal Credit programme and its treatment of Waspi women facing hikes in their state pension age.”

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