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David Gauke leaves DWP in reshuffle

David Gauke MP
David Gauke MP

Former secretary of state for work and pensions David Gauke has been replaced in the role by Esther McVey as part of an executive reshuffle this week by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Gauke was appointed to the Department for Work and Pensions in June 2017. Prior to that, he was chief secretary to the Treasury. He has now moved to the Ministry of Justice to take on the role of secretary of state for justice and Lord Chancellor.

McVey has held senior DWP roles in the past, as minister of state in the department from October 2013 to March 2015. She was also parliamentary under-secretary for the DWP from September 2012 to October 2013.

The new (and old) line-up setting pensions and tax policy

The change of roles at the DWP has been met with disappointment from the pensions industry, which has criticised the “revolving door” of those leading on pensions policy in Government.

Royal London policy director Steve Webb says: “It is deeply disappointing that David Gauke has been moved from his role in charge of UK pensions policy. Pensioners and workers saving for their retirement need someone in charge at the DWP who understands pensions and who has a good relationship with the Treasury.”

He adds: “David Gauke ticked both of those boxes and it is very regrettable that he was given just seven months in the role. Once again we have a revolving door of pensions ministers which will deprive us of the stability which such a long-term area requires.”

Old Mutual Wealth retirement head Jon Greer says it is disappointing that the role has become a “merry-go-round”.

Greer says: “Esther McVey will have some understanding of the brief from her time as parliamentary under-secretary for work and pensions. However, setting retirement policy and ensuring we have a well-functioning state pension system is a long-term project which is put at risk if the minister responsible for the DWP changes for one year to the next.”

The reshuffle has also seen social care become part of the remit of the Department of Health, shifting from the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Webb says: “Including social care in the name of the Department for Health is a welcome, if belated, recognition of the vital importance of this policy area. Just two years ago the last government downgraded the status of the care services minister, so this is a welcome u-turn.”



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There are 5 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Steve Web is wrong. It is not deeply disappointing, it is a step forward.

    Mr Gaulke is my constituency MP and is a by the book merchant scare dot do anything that might not fit in with the part line.

    A Chief whip’s dream is not my idea of a free-thinker or a radical. Long may he remain on the back bench.

  2. Pension policy is determined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Treasury, and the pensions minister carries no influence over it. What, if any, was Steve Webb’s input on George Osborne’s (in my view) ill-conceived pension freedoms? None whatsoever would be my guess and he’s offered no comment since to contradict this assumption. He didn’t even know about them before they were announced or, if he did, was under strict instructions not express any opinion on the subject. Had he dared to do so, he would have found himself in very hot water.

    Since moving to Royal London, he’s been quoted as having said “Where people are making choices based on expert advice or are turning small pots into useful cash lump sums, it is hard to see that as anything other than a good thing.”

    That may be so, but very few people with small pension funds are likely to be prepared to pay a fee for what cannot possibly be inexpensive regulated advice (to be compliant, a comprehensive analysis of all sources of prospective retirement income is required) which, in many cases may well conclude that cashing out is NOT a wise course of action. Best advice is likely to be that small pension pots should be ADDED TO, not cashed out for a taxable lump sum to pay for a new kitchen or car or to clear some credit card debts. What then? If they’ve already decided to cash out, they’ll do it anyway, so why would they pay someone to tell them they shouldn’t?

    The post of pensions minister is purely titular, nothing but a bit of token PR window dressing.

    • Julian

      Influence or not, this shows, yet again, that notwithstanding all the crocodile tears the Government is only interested in two things when it comes to pensions – how to extract tax and how to minimise State Pensions while coercing people to fend for themselves.

      This continual shuffling of Pension ministers just shows the low value the Government puts on this topic – very little indeed.

  3. Andy Robertson-Fox 9th January 2018 at 2:18 pm

    Gaulke’s transfer to the Ministry of Justice and Lord Chancellorship is probably based on his legal background and the desirability for such expertise in such a post as well as the need to replace the promoted Lidington rather than his performance as SoS at the DWP.
    Webb was the beneficiary of circumstance in that under the coalition the Pensions portfolio fell to the Lib Dems and he was able to fashion the single tier and other disastrous reforms that constitute the Pension Act 2014…basically a LibDem policy when in opposition. Of course, like all government departments, the Ministry of Pensions has to work with the purse string holders; the Treasury

  4. David Gaulke from Pensions Minister to Justice Secretary? That is taking the proverbial. Steve Webb a Royal London apprentice on Pensions. These pension scams are a tax raid started by Gordon Brown – through to extremists like George Osborne, effectively criminal offences against the consumers. Who would buy into a pension scheme now – unless forced !? !

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