Esther McVey to head Department for Work and Pensions

Esther McVey has been promoted to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions after David Gauke was moved to the Ministry of Justice as part of Theresa May’s 2018 reshuffle.

McVey (pictured) is the fifth person to hold the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) office since 2016, following Iain Duncan Smith, Stephen Crabb, Damian Green and Gauke, who held the role for just seven months.

The Conservative MP for Tatton – George Osborne’s former seat – is no stranger to the department; from 2012 to 2013 she was parliamentary under-secretary for work and pensions, working underneath Duncan Smith, and then minister of state for the DWP from 2013 to 2015. She has also previously served as deputy chief whip.

McVey’s political career began in 2010, when she won the Wirral West seat. She held the seat until the 2015 election, when she lost narrowly to Labour candidate Margaret Greenwood.

In June 2017 she returned to Westminster after winning in Tatton.

She has generally voted along party lines, although there have been some exceptions. She has consistently voted for removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords, and she has generally voted against allowing same sex marriage, which most Conservatives voted for.

McVey voted to leave the European Union, and has consistently voted against a right to remain for EU nationals already living in the UK.

In terms of pensions, McVey’s voting record is sparse. She has consistently voted for encouraging occupations pensions, and has once voted for automatic enrolment.

The Liverpool-born MP has consistently voted against increasing the tax rate applied to income over £150,000, has always voted against an annual tax on expensive homes (‘mansion tax’) and has generally voted against capital gains tax.

‘Revolving door of pensions ministers’

Former pensions minister turned Royal London director of policy Steve Webb said it was disappointing Gauke was in the role for just seven months.

“Pensioners and workers saving for their retirement need someone in charge at the DWP who understands pensions and who has a good relationship with the Treasury. David Gauke ticked both of those boxes and it is very regrettable that he was given just seven months in the role,” he said.

“Once again we have a revolving door of pensions ministers which will deprive us of the stability which such a long-term area requires.”

Webb said McVey was approachable, and that it was advantageous that she had some experience of the departement under her belt, though ultimately felt continuity of the within the role was important, regardless of who came into the job.

Meanwhile Old Mutual Wealth head of retirement policy Jon Greer said the job had become a “merry-go-round”.

“It is disappointing that one of the most important jobs in government, which has a huge bearing on people’s financial wellbeing, has become a merry-go-round.

“Esther McVey will have some understanding of the brief from her time as parliamentary under-secretary for work and pensions.

“However, setting retirement policy and ensuring we have a well-functioning state pension system is a long-term project which is put at risk if the minister responsible for the DWP changes for one year to the next.”