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Hancock may be set for more than half an hour

12/05/15

The new minister for civil service reform will be keen to make his mark - especially as his predecessor will be watching

Matt Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, is to take up the baton of civil service reform - including the digital agenda - from the veteran Francis Maude, the prime minister announced yesterday.

Matt HancockHancock, who worked briefly in his family software business and was a Bank of England economist before being elected to Parliament in 2010, has sat on the Public Accounts Committee and held junior ministerial posts for energy, business and skills.

As minister for the Cabinet Office and paymaster general, his portfolio includes efficiency and reform - encompassing the Government Digital Service - civil service issues, transparency and cyber security.

While he is seen as a high flier he will find it difficult to match the clout of his predecessor Francis Maude, who held the post of Cabinet Office minister throughout the last government, a tenure unmatched in living memory. Scrutiny of Hancock may be intensified by the fact that Maude - who has retired as an MP - will remain in the government in the coveted post of trade minister at the Foreign Office.

In overall charge of the Cabinet Office is Oliver Letwin, who was promoted to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and will sit in Cabinet.

Continuity in priorities

Early indications are that Hancock's priorities will reflect those that developed during Maude's tenure. The Conservative manifesto stated: "We will save you time, hassle and money by moving more services online, while actively tackling digital exclusion.

"We will ensure digital assistance is always available for those who are not online, while rolling out cross-government technology platforms to cut costs and improve productivity."

Other promises include a "right to mutualise" within the public sector and more civil service reform to "make it more dynamic and streamlined".

All this will be enough to keep Hancock busy. Especially when set against savings targets of a further £10bn a year by 2017-18 and £15-£20bn in 2019-20. However, his political opponents - and the civil service unions - would be unwise to write him off as an upstart.

Picture from gov.uk, Open Government Licence v3.0

 

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