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 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.”