Francis Maude out as minister for the Cabinet Office as Matt Hancock takes the reins

As David Cameron finalises post-election Cabinet, former business minister Matt Hancock is unveiled as Francis Maude's replacement

By matt.foster

11 May 2015

Matt Hancock is to succeed Francis Maude as minister for the Cabinet Office, Downing Street has confirmed, as David Cameron put the finishing touches to his new Cabinet following the Conservatives' election victory.

Hancock  – who has previously served as a minister of state at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)  – will take forward the efficiency and civil service reform post at the Cabinet Office and will attend Cabinet.

He will also serve as paymaster general, while Oliver Letwin moves from his minister for policy role to taking "overall charge" of the Cabinet Office in what appears to be a split of the roles previously occupied by Maude. Maude – who remained in post the full five years of the last parliament, overseeing major reform to the civil service – is to take on a new role as minister for trade at the Foreign Office and BIS.

Cameron announced that Letwin would attend Cabinet as a "full member" in his roles as Duchy of Lancaster. CSW is currently awaiting further details of how responsibility will be divided between the two ministers.

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Hancock's appointment has been welcomed by the Institute for Government think tank, who also paid tribute to the "extensive work and personal commitment" shown by Francis Maude over his five years in the job.

"Political leadership is crucial to securing lasting changes to the way central government operates and to building support in the civil service for reform," said the Institute's director Peter Riddell.

"Mr Hancock has already shown himself an energetic minister, encouraging apprenticeships and promoting  business and innovation. He now faces big challenges, not only in achieving the large efficiency savings which the Conservatives promised in their election manifesto, but also in extending digital government and further reforming the operation of Whitehall."

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, said Hancock would need to demonstrate "clear vision" of how the Conservatives' plans for further spending reductions would be met, warning that the civil service "cannot simply be treated as a tool for deficit reduction".

He added: "If it is to be smaller but more able, the government needs to outline how it will provide civil servants with the recognition, reward and resources they need to deliver the services the public expects.”

A spokesperson for the PCS union  – whose general secretary Mark Serwotka frequently clashed with Maude over changes to public sector pay and terms during his tenure –  meanwhile said that Hancock would have a "tough act to follow" in matching the outgoing MCO's "capacity for disharmony".

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Labour's Lucy Powell is to stay in post as shadow minister for the Cabinet Office following the party's election defeat. Powell, who served as a key adviser to former leader Ed Miliband, has been in the job since November of last year, replacing Michael Dugher.

Lord Falconer, who led the party's discussions with the civil service before its election defeat, has been handed the shadow justice brief for the opposition.

Wider reshuffle

Away from the Cabinet Office, the prime minister has largely opted for continuity in his post-election reshuffle. However, he has made some significant changes to his top team this afternoon, including the replacement of Eric Pickles as communities secretary.

Pickles is to be replaced by Greg Clark, his former junior at the Department for Communities and Local Government. The outgoing secretary of state said he "could not wish for a better successor" than Clark, and promised "more announcements later in the week" on his new role.

Clark can now be expected to oversee the Tories' manifesto pledge to extend the 'Right to Buy' policy – which allows social housing tenants to buy their own homes – to housing association properties. 

The party has also pledged further devolution of major transport, economic development and social care powers to cities which opt to introduce elected mayors, a manifesto promise likely to draw on Clark's experience of bringing in new 'City Deals' as a DCLG minister.

In further changes announced today, the prime minister confirmed that the former culture, media and sport committee chair John Whittingdale would take the helm at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), replacing Sajid Javid, who moves to become business secretary. Amber Rudd has been promoted from energy minister to secretary of state, succeeding Liberal Democrat Ed Davey. David Mundell, Scotland's only Conservative MP, becomes Scottish secretary.


Cameron's other appointments saw much of his Cabinet remain in place, with the Department of Health, Department for Transport, Department for International Development and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs all keeping their pre-election secretaries of state. 

Jeremy Hunt will continue to serve as health secretary; Patrick McLoughlin stays on as secretary of state for transport; Justine Greening keeps her international development job; Theresa Villiers remains as Northern Ireland secretary; Stephen Crabb continues at the Wales Office; and Liz Truss stays on as environment secretary.

Some commentators had speculated that Cameron might use the reshuffle to announce a series of machinery of government changes, with DCMS and the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland offices identified as likely candidates for abolition or merger. However, the appointment of Javid at DCMS, and the reappointment of Villiers at the NI office and Crabb at the Wales office suggests the prime minister has shied away from a major overhaul of Whitehall.

It was announced over the weekend that Iain Duncan Smith would been kept on as work and pensions secretary, joining chancellor George Osborne, home secretary Theresa May, education secretary Nicky Morgan, defence secretary Michael Fallon and foreign secretary Philip Hammond as Cabinet ministers who will stay in their jobs in Cameron's new majority government.

Michael Gove meanwhile moves to the post of justice secretary, with his predecessor Chris Grayling taking on the job of Commons leader, responsible for overseeing government business in the House.

Correction: An earlier draft of this story referred to Letwin's role as Duchy of Lancaster as a new appointment; in fact, he has held this post since July 2014.

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