New children’s minister appointed in Boris Johnson reshuffle

Kemi Badenoch succeeds Nadim Zahawi in Department for Education post responsible for children's social care

Image of Kemi Badenoch MP, the children's minister appointed in July 2019
Kemi Badenoch, the children's minister (credit: Chris McAndrew / Wikimedia Commons)

Kemi Badenoch, the MP for Saffron Walden, has succeeded Nadhim Zahawi as children’s minister.

The appointment was made public on Saturday, 24 hours after Zahawi, who had been in post 18 months, was reshuffled to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) by new prime minister Boris Johnson.

When Zahawi arrived in January 2018, the minister for children and families role was downgraded from minister of state to junior minister level, and it will retain this status under Badenoch.

A staunch backer of leaving the EU, Badenoch, 39, was elected to Parliament in 2017 having previously served for the Conservatives in the London Assembly.

She was born in London to Nigerian parents before spending much of her childhood in Lagos, and has spoken in Parliament about her experiences of poverty, including living without electricity or functioning water supply, and doing her homework by candlelight.

After returning to the UK at 16 Badenoch studied systems engineering at Sussex University, later also gaining a law degree, and has worked in the IT and banking sectors, including for RBS and Coutts.

What’s in Badenoch’s in-tray? 

The ongoing impact of budget cuts on children’s social care will be one of many items occupying Badenoch’s in-tray.

At the start of the year, a report by the National Audit Office said the DfE did “not fully understand what is causing increases in demand and activity” in terms of numbers of children in care and subject to child protection measures.

A select committee recently called on the government to increase core children’s services funding by £3.1bn by 2025, in line with Local Government Association assessments of what is needed to maintain services.

Another of the cross-party groups is currently examining whether social workers are able to do their jobs given the work pressures they face.

Beyond that there is the ongoing social work reform agenda to manage, with the National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) due to be rolled out nationally in spring 2020. As of the end of May, just 300 social workers had taken the assessment against a government target of at least 1,200 by the end of the year.

March 2020 is also when What Works for Children’s Social Care – which is supervising key initiatives on the DfE’s behalf – is due to be operating independently, while the new regulator, Social Work England, is set to take over in December.

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5 Responses to New children’s minister appointed in Boris Johnson reshuffle

  1. Mildly Sceptical July 29, 2019 at 2:56 pm #

    ‘At the start of the year, a report by the National Audit Office said the DfE did “not fully understand what is causing increases in demand and activity” in terms of numbers of children in care and subject to child protection measures.’

    Is it just me, or would this be indicative of our government generally: “Department of {insert here] did not fully understand”?

    Lovely to see our new Prime Minister promise all sorts of spending on all sorts of things, but since this remains the party in government that have driven public spending down and down over the last decade forcing all public services to their knees and a significant proportion of the population into poverty, I won’t hold my breath that they’ll be resolving funding issues in children’s social care any time soon.

    • Maurice Baren August 2, 2019 at 9:16 am #

      Sad to se that the Govt downgraded Childrens services from Minister of Ste to Junior Minister, and that Boris Johnson has continued to put care of children at a junior level – doesnt that in itself say something about the priorities of this government

  2. Anne July 29, 2019 at 9:21 pm #

    Very concerning the lead minister is an engineer. We need minister for children and education to have professional skills training and experience with children. Disappointed at the stream of individuals taking on roles with responsibility they have no understanding of. Having a hard childhood may give some insight but more is needed to develop agencies and systems and effective services.

  3. Olukemi August 13, 2019 at 3:49 pm #

    Kemi has been considerably consistent with ideas that aligned with the PM

  4. Onegoodhead August 13, 2019 at 3:53 pm #

    Kemi has been keen on BREXIT, isn’t quite surprising for Jonson to have her on ship, Anne, I guess the PM just wants a team for 31st October Brexit deadline