Reshuffle: Jeremy Hunt replaces Lansley as health secretary

Clearout at Department of Health sees Paul Burstow lose care services minister's post in favour of fellow Lib Dem Norman Lamb.

Credit: Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Jeremy Hunt has been appointed health secretary as part of a wholesale change in responsibility for adult social care in today’s Cabinet reshuffle that includes the departure of care services minister Paul Burstow from government.

Hunt has replaced Andrew Lansley, who becomes shadow leader of the House of Commons, while Burstow has departed to the backbenches after two years in charge of adult social care policy in England. He is being replaced by fellow Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb.

The overhaul at the Department of Health comes at a critical time for adult social care, with the government having published a White Paper and draft bill to reform the law and funding of social care in July. The person who was the DH’s top social care civil servant – David Behan – left his post in July to become chief executive of the Care Quality Commission.

Other key moves announced in today’s reshuffle include the appointment of Chris Grayling as justice secretary, with responsibility for youth and family justice, and the replacement of Sarah Teather as children’s minister by David Laws, who is also a Liberal Democrat.

Hunt urged to tackle care funding

Social care leaders urged Hunt to prioritise addressing under-funding of care and taking forward plans to implement a cap on individuals’ lifetime care costs, as proposed by the Dilnot commission set up by Lansley. 

“It is essential that the incoming secretary of state is a strong advocate within government to resolve the long-term funding of social care in the lead-up to the next comprehensive spending review, and to address the immediate shortfall that impacts on the availability of services to older and disabled people,” said Mike Padgham, chair of the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA).

Chai Patel, chair of care provider HC-One, said: “Whilst we wish Jeremy Hunt well in his new role, the elephant in the room is where does this leave the Dilnot report’s recommendations? If the new secretary of state attempts to kick this issue into the long grass, then this reshuffle will be a huge step backwards for social care in this country.”

Grayling ‘must not abandon rehabilitation’

The Prison Reform Trust said Grayling must not abandon his predecessor Ken Clarke’s emphasis on rehabilitation in penal policy. It cited a speech he made in 2009, as shadow home secretary, when he said: “We are much too inclined to put prisoners into a cell for eighteen hours or more a day, and to do much too little to deal with root problems in their lives – like addiction, lack of education, or mental health problems – or a destructive combination of all three.”

In response to his appointment, the trust’s chief executive, Juliet Lyon, said: “As the new justice secretary has previously acknowledged, the solutions to crime do not lie behind bars but in housing, employment, health and social care and family support. Chris Grayling will need the strength and courage to resist political point scoring, challenge vested interest and avoid undermining a reform programme that is reducing crime and saving money.”

Other appointments

Disability minister Maria Miller has been promoted to replace Hunt as secretary of state for culture, media and sport, and will also become minister for women and equalities.

Lansley has become leader of the House of Commons after nine years as either shadow health secretary or health secretary, while Clarke has become a minister without portfolio within the Cabinet.

Ministers staying put include communities secretary Eric Pickles, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and education secretary Michael Gove, who has overall responsibility for children’s social care.

Hunt served as shadow minister for disabled people from 2005-7 and his personal website says he “campaigned strongly for simplification of the benefits system and individual social care budgets” in that role. As culture secretary he has faced allegations of improper contacts with News Corporation in the run-up to his decision to approve its bid to takeover BSkyB, which has since been dropped.

Mithran Samuel is Community Care’s adults’ editor.

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