Ministers’ revolving door leads to re-inventing the wheel syndrome

By Michael Burton | 12 February 2020
  • Michael Burton

The turnover of Government ministers under Prime Minister David Cameron was so limited that many outlived their own permanent secretaries. Eric Pickles did the communities job for five years, while Theresa May (home secretary), Jeremy Hunt (health) and George Osborne (chancellor) all lasted six years in their posts. Since 2015 the minister’s job has been a revolving door. There have been four communities secretaries since then and we have lost count of the number of junior ministers in the same time – and now another reshuffle brings in a batch of new faces.

This high turnover coincides with a huge churn of civil servants caused by Brexit, meaning there is a real danger of a loss of institutional memory in Whitehall. This in turn leads to much reinventing of wheels as new ministers ‘discover’ favourite policies which have either been tried umpteen times before or bear little connection with reality.

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