Amber Rudd appointed work and pensions secretary - the fifth since March 2016

Kyle Caldwell
19 November 2018

Amber Rudd (pictured above) has replaced Esther McVey as secretary of state for work and pensions, becoming the fifth person to be appointed to the position since Iain Duncan Smith resigned in March 2016.

McVey relinquished her post after quitting Theresa May’s cabinet in disagreement over the Brexit deal, which she says “does not honour” the result of the referendum.

Over the past two and a half years, the work and pensions secretary role has resembled a game of musical chairs: Stephen Crabb, Damian Green, David Gauke, Esther McVey and now Amber Rudd have all been in the hot seat.

On average, since March 2016, the secretary of state for work and pensions position has swapped hands every six and a half months.

Commenting on Rudd’s appointment, Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, points out that there is plenty on the to-do list.  

“Right now, domestic pensions policy issues are probably a long way from Amber Rudd’s mind as Westminster lurches from one Brexit crisis to another.

“However, once the dust has settled she will find a department facing challenges on a number of fronts. If she stays in the job long enough, she could be required to shepherd through an acceleration in the state pension age increase to 67 and 68, hardly a popular policy.”

He adds: “More immediately, Rudd will have to decide whether the pensions dashboard project – which was reviewed and eventually backed to a degree by her predecessor – should go ahead as planned. Automatic enrolment is also reaching a crucial phase, with contributions set to rise to 8% of earnings from April next year.”

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, described Rudd’s pensions experience as “a bit sparse”.

He says: “How can the public be confident in consistent policy around pensions and long-term savings if the DWP leadership changes almost as often as the calendar year?

"However, it’s encouraging to note that Rudd has already proclaimed her support for the pension dashboard."

“And if she’s looking for an easy win before year-end, then she should provide clarity on the government’s role in the dashboard and ensure her department publishes its feasibility study swiftly.”

This article first appeared on our sister website Money Observer.

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