Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform merger slammed by CIPD

The CIPD has criticised the timing of the prime minister’s departmental restructure, which will see the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) merge with the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).

The government announced on Friday (5 June) that it planned to integrate DIUS with BERR to better build the skills Britain needed to compete on a global scale and “create the jobs of the future”. The announcement came as prime minister Gordon Brown pushed through a Cabinet reshuffle which saw skills secretary John Denham move to the Department for Communities and Local Government, replacing Hazel Blears, who quit her post last week following the MPs’ expenses scandal.

There will be no skills secretary replacement as the new department has axed the post. At the same time, the government announced it would hire The Apprenctice TV icon Alan Sugar as a new enterprise tsar, giving him a peerage in the House of Lords.

John Philpott, public policy director at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said: “Although there are definite merits in aligning the skills agenda even more closely with the business agenda, we despair at yet another change in the government’s departmental structures for skills. Now is surely not the time to be embarking on yet another reorganisation of the civil service teams responsible for supporting businesses and individuals in boosting skills.

“The biggest challenge in raising skills and boosting UK productivity is ensuring leadership and management skills are up to scratch,” he added. “The constant reorganisation of ministers, departments and agencies responsible for delivering the skills agenda itself is not setting a great example in this regard.”

The new department – set up to replace one which was announced just two years ago by Brown – has already been heavily criticised for wasting taxpayers’ money.

But a press statement from the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: “To compete in a global economy and create the jobs of the future Britain requires a regulatory environment that encourages enterprise, skilled people, innovation, and world-class science and research. The merger of BERR and DIUS brings together the parts of the government with key expertise in these areas.”

Last week, six cabinet ministers left the government, including one, former work and pensions secretary James Purnell, calling on the prime minister to quit.

It is understood that Brown has now completed his Cabinet reshuffle.

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