Whitehall veteran John Shield returns to boost welfare reforms

The Department for Work and Pensions is turning to a Whitehall comms stalwart as it faces up to the task of communicating controversial welfare reforms.

Iain Duncan Smith: behind the controversial reforms
Iain Duncan Smith: behind the controversial reforms

John Shield will join the department at the end of November from his current role as director of current affairs at transport company Go-Ahead.

He will be charged with handling comms around the Welfare Reform Bill proposed by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, which is expected to be the biggest benefits shake-up in 60 years.

A DWP spokesman confirmed the appointment and said: 'John has a proven track record inside and outside of Government and will be joining at a time when we will be facing some of the biggest comms challenges in Whitehall.

'Welfare reform, universal credit, state pension reform and auto-enrolment will affect the lives of millions of people over the coming years.'

At the Labour Party Conference this week, 16-year-old Rory Weal brought attention to the proposals by stating that the welfare state was being 'ruthlessly ripped apart by a vicious, right-wing Tory-led Government'.

The bill, which is currently before Parliament, is calling for almost all of the subsidies paid to those on low income – ranging from income support to housing benefit – to be collapsed into a new 'universal credit' and £18bn cut off the welfare budget over four years.

Shield has been at Go-Ahead for one year, joining from the BBC where he was head of comms for journalism.

He has formerly headed up comms at the Department for Communities and Local Government and was head of news for the then Department for Education and Skills.

Shield replaces Sue Garrard, who left the department in January to head up comms at Unilever.

 

WELFARE PROPOSALS

  • Almost all subsidies paid to those on low income to be collapsed into a new 'universal credit'
  • £18bn to be cut from the welfare budget over the next four years, with childcare support and free school meals expected to be hit
  • Other areas that could be cut include limiting 'employment and support allowance' to a year, and cutting housing benefit.

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