Prime Minister Theresa May set out her stall yesterday by merging two Whitehall departments into a giant new office that promises to deliver an “industrial strategy” for Britain – City AM reported this morning.
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will replace the departments of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The new office will be led by former communities and local government secretary Greg Clark.
The TPA has long been a vocal supporter of abolishing BIS and moving some of its functions to other departments. Vince Cable had a similar opinion on the matter... until he was offered the position of Secretary of State for BIS in 2010.
In “The Spending Plan”, we have outlined our vision of the process of abolishing the department and estimated that if our suggestions were to be implemented, it could save around £4.5 billion annually.
The savings would come from scrapping the unnecessary and wasteful bodies within the department and transferring more useful business support services to other organisations which are closer to on-the-ground business, such as the Institute of Directors of the British Chambers of Commerce.
This follows some welcome decisions to abolish wasteful functions of DECC in the past. Last year, our suggestion to abolish the Green Deal was implemented and Telegraph called it a “victory for common sense”. We also welcomed abolition of a £1 billion carbon capture and storage programme which works with private sector, since we are convinced it should be funded privately too.
Although the government still has a way to go in implementing the full set of our suggestions, it is certainly good to see these first steps, and the Prime Minister’s new decision to replace the departments of BIS and ECC are welcome. What we need now are some quick decisions on big infrastructure projects and limited fiddly interventions.