The UK Government reshuffle

CLA President Mark Tufnell has his say on the latest changes to government departments

Although there has been little activity when it comes to the hiring and firing of ministers, Westminster’s government departments have had a shake-up this week. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has reshuffled the pack, and in doing so, formed four “new” departments that will no doubt be of keen interest to many CLA members.

“It isn’t clear to me what will be achieved by reorganising Whitehall into new departments.” says CLA President Mark Tufnell. “The real problem is that the government does not have a robust and ambitious plan for the UK economy – and that isn’t going to be addressed by putting different portfolios into different departments.”

As part of the restructure, the former department which covered business and energy has been broken up to create the new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and the Department of Business and Trade. A decision that opposition parties have questioned.

To spearhead this new ministry, Grant Shapps has been appointed as new Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary, his third cabinet role since October last year. The spotlight will now be firmly on Mr Shapps who, in the government’s words, is "tasked with securing our long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and halving inflation".

Elsewhere there have been other updates which will impact rural landowners and businesses in the UK: a new department focused on science, innovation and technology run by Michelle Donelan, which will take the digital portfolio out of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Lucy Frazer moves from Housing Minister, to take charge of DCMS, which has led to Rachael Maclean becoming the 15th housing Minister since 2010. A new business and trade ministry led by Kemi Badenoch, and minister Graham Stuart joins the newly formed Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

The rural economy is 19% less productive than the national average. Closing that gap would add £43bn to the UK economy, and unlock the enormous potential of rural businesses large and small. Ministers need a laser-like focus on removing the barriers businesses face. In rural areas that means investment in connectivity and infrastructure, and radical reform of the planning system to ensure entrepreneurs have what they need to create good jobs, grow the economy and strengthen our communities.

CLA President Mark Tufnell