Ben Gummer arrives at 10 Downing Street yesterday © Press Association Images
Ben Gummer arrives at 10 Downing Street yesterday © Press Association Images

Ben Gummer takes over as minister in charge of procurement

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
15 July 2016

Ben Gummer has been announced as the new minister in charge of UK government procurement.

Gummer has taken over from Matt Hancock as minister for the Cabinet Office and paymaster general, a role covering procurement, public sector efficiency and reform, digital transformation and industrial relations strategy.

Gummer, who was elected MP for Ipswich in 2010, was previously under secretary for quality at the Department of Health.

After studying at Cambridge he ran a small engineering firm before becoming managing director of a consultancy. He also wrote a book on the Black Death called The Scourging Angel, an account of the deadly disease’s impact on the UK.

Hancock was replaced just two days after unveiling the Civil Service Workforce Plan 2016-2020, which said savings of £18.6bn had been achieved over the last parliament by 2014-15.

“Since 2010 we have transformed delivery models, implemented a programme of reform, centralised services such as procurement to increase efficiency, and improved government transparency,” said the report.

New prime minister Theresa May also announced yesterday that a new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) would be created. It will merge the responsibilities of two former departments: the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Greg Clark, former secretary of state for communities and local government, will lead BEIS, replacing Sajid Javid, who previously ran BIS. Javid swaps places with him in the reshuffle, taking Clark’s previous role.

Clark said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading government’s relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change.”

Clark’s department will have to work out how to divvy-up or share responsibilities with the new Department for International Trade, headed by Liam Fox. 

The government's focus on industrial strategy may be a new addition to the title, but the strategy itself was launched back in 2013, to help British businesses compete with other rising economies and increasing global competition.

By picking it out in the title, May is highlighting plans she referenced in her leadership bid only a few days earlier when she said that she wanted an industrial strategy to “get the whole economy firing”.

The issue of whether climate will be taken seriously in the new government remains to be seen, with no mention of it in the title of any new departments or positions so far.

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