McVey replaces Gauke to become fifth DWP head in less than three years

Esther McVey has replaced David Gauke as secretary of state for work and pensions, becoming the fifth person to hold the post since the Conservatives took power in 2015.

Gauke moves on after just seven months to take the post of justice secretary in Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle. None of his predecessors, Iain Duncan Smith, Stephen Crabb, or Damian Green lasted for more than a year.

McVey held the post of employment minister between 2013 and 2015, before losing her Wirral West seat in the 2015 General Election. She re-entered Parliament in 2017 when she was given the safe Tatton seat vacated by George Osborne.

Pensions and financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman MP has retained his role.

The reshuffle sees Jeremy Hunt MP given responsibility for social care within the health secretary brief. This added responsibility reflects a planned Government move towards combining funding of health and social care through controversial new accountable care organisations (ACOs), currently being proposed by Hunt.

Barnett Waddingham senior consultant Malcolm McLean says: “The revolving door for DWP Ministers is beginning another spin. With the new incumbent now in post we will have had five secretaries of state since the start of the Conservative government in May 2015 and as many as 14 under different governments since 1997.

“This is a high turnover and the Government is not giving ministers enough time in the post to get to grips with the issues. It is particularly disappointing that it has been found necessary to move David Gauke on after a little more than six months in the job.

“His background and experience in the Treasury was widely seen as a valuable addition to a department desperately in need of consolidation and respite after several years of upheaval and turbulence, especially in the pensions sphere.”