Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Who are the new DWP ministers?
So, in the current government reshuffle, two notable changes are the
departure from the DWP of Chris Grayling and Maria Miller.
Instead they have been replaced with two people who most members
of the public will never have heard of. They are Esther McVey (former
parliamentary private secretary to Chris Grayling) and Mark Hoban
(the former Treasury Minister), with both of them being
Conservatives. That these are the new job holders is probably certain
given that the official Number 10 twitter account has tweeted the
Mark Hoban is taking over from Chris Grayling as Minister of State
for Work and Pensions.
Esther McVey is taking over from Maria Miller as Under-Secretary of
State at the Department of Work and Pensions (though it's not known
if she'll also be Minister for the Disabled).
Now, as McVey has been working in the DWP as Chris Grayling's
chief assistant since 2010 she obviously has experience of working in
the DWP while Hoban has none with his previous parliamentary
experience being in science and technology, education and the
treasury. However, with both of them, their personal opinions and
approaches to the DWP's work are pretty much unknown.
That being said, it's obvious that neither of them are being in to rock
the boat. Both of their job moves are promotions so my guess would
be that Number 10 just wants them to pretty much keep things going
the way they are under the auspices of their immediate boss Iain
Duncan-Smith (who's presence will mean that the welfare reforms will
keep going but who also is disliked by the treasury for fighting
ferociously to protect his department from cuts).
So, to give us a better idea who these two new ministers are, I'm
going to start with brief biopics of each of them.
Economist and former financial analyst. Married with no children. MP
for Fareham in Hampshire, a Conservative safe seat, and member of
the Conservative front bench since 2003 - primarily in finance related
roles - and is viewed as a 'hard-nosed' safe pair of hands.
However, based on an interview on the Today programme and
looking at the analysis of the interview by Touchstone, where he
defended the housing benefit cuts and changes to DLA, while
refuting analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies' analysis of the
changes (based on the DWP's figures) as being likely to significantly
increase poverty. From this he's either good at spouting the
government line or a fool who actually believes it. Personally I think
it's more likely to be the latter.
However, given that he's got no previous experience in this area and
doesn't appear to have ever shown an interest, it's pretty impossible
to tell what kind of job he'll do in his new role.
Former TV presenter and businesswoman. Single. MP for Wirral
West in Merseyside, a marginal seat which she won from Labour in
2010 after losing in 2005. She's also a supporter of Conservative
Way Forward, a neo-Thatcherite group within the tories (albeit one
which also supported David Cameron's modernising agenda). While
this and the fact that she (unsurprisingly) supported her boss's
welfare reforms in public, is rather unpromising, what her personal
opinions are is anyone's guess and she is patron of a disabled
children charity called 'Full Of Life'.
The best thing about her I've been able to turn up so far is that she
doesn't appear to have copied her boss's habit of describing disabled
people as workshy and scroungers - it's early days yet though.
Additionally, she did manage to get Grant Shapps to visit families
living in partially demolished streets in her constituency when he was
Housing Minister with the result that he made an extra £75 million
available to help families trapped in those and similar situations - so
not without some sense of decency then.
Can be found on twitter as @EstherMcVeyMP.
Posted by George W. Potter at 19:12