DECC's Stephen Lovegrove to succeed Jon Thompson as Ministry of Defence permanent secretary

Lovegrove to leave DECC after three years at the top, taking over from Jon Thompson at the MoD "shortly"


By matt.foster

09 Mar 2016

Stephen Lovegrove has been named as the new permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, after three years as the most senior official at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Lovegrove has served as DECC perm sec since February 2013, and the MoD announced on Wednesday that he would "shortly" be succeeding Jon Thompson, who is moving from the defence ministry to become chief executive of HM Revenue and Customs.

The incoming MoD perm sec said he was looking forward to "getting to grips" the department's "many different challenges, not least implementing last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review".


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Lovegrove added: "It has been a great personal and professional privilege to lead DECC over the last three years, and it is a wrench to be leaving such a tremendous department and such expert and dedicated colleagues and friends. 

"During my time here we have made lasting changes to transition to a low carbon energy system, and played a hugely influential role in the achievement of a global deal to combat climate change, and I am very proud to have been a part of that. Nevertheless, I am delighted to be given the opportunity to tackle new challenges at the Ministry of Defence with the excellent team there."

Lovegrove's work at the MoD will be framed by last year's Strategic Defence and Security Review, which committed the government to increasing defence spending every year and said the UK would continue to meet a Nato target of spending 2% of GDP on defence for the rest of the decade.

But the review also outlined proposals to reduce the MoD's estate by 30%, while the MoD is set to axe almost a third of its civil service roles by the end of the parliament, prompting warnings from unions about is ability to deliver on the SDSR.

Lovegrove's current ministerial boss, energy secretary Amber Rudd, said the perm sec had "played a crucial part" in making Decc a department "which is focused on putting consumers first, and making sure the country has secure, affordable and clean energy that our families and businesses can rely on now and in the future".

Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood meanwhile paid tribute to Lovegrove – who has also served as chief executive of the Shareholder Executive and as a director general at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – as having done "a superb job leading Decc over the last three years".

"His skills and experience leave him strongly placed to lead MOD’s vital and complex operations," Heywood added.

Before joining Whitehall, Lovegrove – who told CSW last year that he had a "lamentable weakness for gangster films" – spent eleven yeas at Deutsche Bank. He also sat on the board of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

According to the government, Lovegrove's role is likely to be filled by an acting perm sec "in the short term" as the department looks for a new leader.

The announcement marks the latest leadership move at the top of Whitehall, with changes announced at perm sec level in HMRC, the Department of Health, the Department for Education and the Treasury since the end of last year. It was also announced yesterday that Crown Commercial Service chief Sally Collier is set to move to exams regulator Ofqual, triggering a hunt for her successor as leader of the government procurement arm.

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