Cabinet ministers are reportedly drawing up plans to absorb the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) into a new look infrastructure super ministry.
Under the proposal BEIS would be merged with the transport and culture departments to create the new “Ministry of Infrastructure”, The Sun reported last night (2 January).
The wide-ranging Whitehall shake-up would also see the Department for International Development subsumed back into the Foreign Office.
According to the newspaper, the project is being championed by Treasury chief secretary Liz Truss, who has discussed it with Theresa May’s de facto deputy, cabinet office minister David Lidington.
The review is being explored in the context of the government-wide spending review, due to be published in the autumn, which will set ministerial’ budgets for the next four years.
The new ministry would bring the key infrastructure areas, transport and energy, under one ministerial roof for the first time.
If implemented, the move would represent the fifth change of ministry for energy in just over a decade, while cutting departmental overheads.
Energy was transferred from the Department of Trade and Industry, when it was disbanded in 2007, to the newly established department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
It was then switched to DECC (department of energy and climate and change) before that was in turn abolished to make way for BEIS in 2016 after Theresa May became prime minister.
However chief executive of the Economic Policy Centre Dan Lewis expressed scepticism that creating a new ministry would have a “big qualitative impact” on future delivery of projects.
He said: “The challenges will remain the same – spending money on infrastructure is easy, generating returns on it is hard. And the public like it right up until it is in their backyard, at which point they can only be allayed with a huge stake, or non-construction.”
The Treasury was contacted for a comment on the mooted reorganisation but had not replied when this article went to press.