Tory Brexiteer Amber Rudd has taken over as the fourth Work and Pensions Secretary in just over two years.
She inherits a chair left vacant by Esther McVey, who resigned after a Cabinet spat with Prime Minister Theresa May and her colleagues over the draft Brexit deal.
But Rudd’s new job shows a lack of continuity for retirement savers worried about speculation the government is scrapping tax relief on contributions and may dump the pensions dashboard that will give them control over the cash invested in pensions.
It also raises the question about who is steering policy for retirement savers?
Is it the pensions minister or secretary of state?
For many, it seems that senior politicians are taking their roles as career steps rather than because they care about the job and the implications their brief encounters have on the retirement finances and lifestyles of ordinary people.
Rudd, aged 55, is MP for Hastings and Rye. She has held office as Secretary for Energy and Climate Change (2015), rising to Home Secretary after Theresa May took over at Downing Street. She resigned in April 2018 following accusations she had misled a Parliamentary committee over deportation targets.
Rudd has two children with critic and writer AA Gill. The couple divorced.
Previous incumbents at the DWP were:
- Esther McVey remains an MP but holds no office (January to November 2018 – In office for 11 months)
- David Gauke moved to take over as Secretary for Justice (June 2017 to January 2018 – 8 months)
- Damian Green resigned over allegations of sexual harassment (July 2016 to June 2017 – 11 months)
- Stephen Crabb resigned over sexual harassment allegations (March 2016 to July 2016 – 5 months)
- Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of universal credit, held the post the longest (May 2010 to March 2016 – 6 years)
The DWP has responsibility for setting the state pension age, how much the state pension pays, and ultimately, if British expats will gain ‘uprating’ or the cost of living increase each year on their frozen state pension payments.
Together with the Treasury, the DWP also sets policy for pensions like annual limits on pension contributions and the lifetime allowance.