DCLG fills top comms job after luring DfES chief

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has poached DfES director of news John Shield to lead its PR division.

Shield takes over from Derek Plews at the DCLG, effectively the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (PRWeek, 21 July). He will oversee a team of around 70 and report to permanent secretary Peter Housden.

"At the DCLG I will cover planning, housing, equality and community cohesion, issues that really do affect people's everyday lives," he told PRWeek.

Shield takes the helm at the end of September, and over the following nine months will face a plethora of high-profile policy issues.

A white paper, which is due to be published in the autumn, will examine the relationship between local and central government, and the role that local government ought to play in regional economic development.

The Queen's Speech in November will set out the legislative framework for a Local Government Bill. In December, Sir Michael Lyons will publish his long-awaited and potentially controversial report into the future of council tax and how it should be levied.

The Government will act on Lyons's recommendations in the New Year, when the DCLG will also face a capability review, a departmental audit to ascertain whether it is fit for purpose. All these matters will bring significant communications challenges for Shield's team.

Shield, who declined to comment on future issues for the DCLG, has leapfrogged into senior management. He spent nearly two years as director of news at the Department for Education and Skills, having arrived as chief press officer six months earlier. Before that, he had been a senior press officer at Number 10 for three years.

The DfES is now on the hunt for his replacement to lead its 20-strong press team.

The department's director of communications remains Caroline Wright, who was hired earlier this year after a spell at renovation scheme Partnerships for Schools.

DCLG acting director of comms is Jane Groom. She will return to her post of deputy director of comms when Shield arrives.

The DCLG is also seeking a head of news.

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