Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
19 March 2016

Stephen Crabb replaces Iain Duncan Smith at the Department of Work and Pensions

The former Secretary of State for Wales has long been widely tipped for bigger things at Westminster. 

By Stephen Bush

Stephen Crabb has been appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, leaving his post as Secretary of State for Wales. Crabb, who is from a single-parent family and was educated at state school in Wales, is regarded as a Cameroon moderniser, though he voted against equal marriage in 2013. He was the head of Project Umubano, the Conservative party’s development project in Sierra Leone and Rwanda, and is well-liked in the development sector.

Crabb has long been tipped for bigger things, with Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader in Scotland, suggesting him as a replacement for David Cameron earlier in the year, and the welfare brief represents a significant challenge. Within the DWP, morale is at rock-bottom and across Whitehall the department’s stock is low. Maintaining welfare reform – a totemic issue on much of the Tory right – while mothballing Iain Duncan Smith’s failed projects (including the universal credit, which, privately, civil servants have long believed will never be fully rolled out) will be a tricky balancing act.

Paradoxically, despite the blows to the prestige of the Chancellor, George Osborne, the move completes a good week for the Treasury. Throughout the last parliament, Osborne faced a strong opponent of Treasury interests at BIS in the shape of Vince Cable and another in the shape of Duncan Smith. Now, Sajid Javid, an Osborne creation, is Secretary of State for BIS, while Crabb, a moderniser, is at the DWP.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How to create a responsible form of “buy now, pay later”
“Unions are helping improve conditions for drivers like me”
Transport is the core of levelling up