A government minister has said that industrial strategy will remain under the remit of Kwasi Kwarteng’s Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis), despite speculation the portfolio will be dropped by the Whitehall department.
It was widely reported last week that Kwarteng, the business secretary, had axed the government’s Industrial Strategy Council and that his department was likely to be slimlined and renamed.
The government’s industrial strategy push was launched in 2017 to try and consult with the private sector to improve productivity, infrastructure and business investment.
However, business minister Paul Scully refuted the claims today and told City A.M. that the department was “still going to be Beis as far as I know” and ruled out a rebrand any time soon.
“We’re working to the same agenda of making sure we can bounce back in our economy, but also we’ve got the plan for growth within that recovery to make sure we can build back better, build back greener,” he said.
“All of that same agenda continues to do so, we don’t need to rebrand to do that.”
Sky News first reported last week that Kwarteng had broken up the Industrial Strategy Council, which was launched when Theresa May was prime minister to help advise the government on how to create better conditions for UK businesses.
The council was headed by Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane and included business leaders like Marks & Spencer chair Archie Norman and McKinsey’s head of UK operations Sir Charlie Mayfield.
Sky News reported that Kwarteng told the council it was being disbanded as the government “had decided to mark a departure from the Industrial Strategy brand” and would instead launch a new “plan for growth”.
Manufacturing lobby Make UK told The Guardian that the decision was “frustrating” and “harsh”.
Labour today cast doubt on Scully’s claims that industrial strategy will not be dropped from Beis, adding that the department “cannot be industrial strategy in name alone”.
“At a time when we need to be strengthening our industrial strategy and make it work, the government decides we don’t need one,” shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said.
“It shows why the government cannot be the partner business needs to help us thrive in the future as a country, including meeting the demands of the green transition and creating the jobs we sorely need as a country.”