Downing Street PR chief Simon Lewis shakes up Government comms teams

Simon Lewis, director of comms at 10 Downing Street and the Prime Minister's official spokesman, is merging the comms functions of Downing Street and the Cabinet Office.

Shake up at Downing Street: Simon Lewis
Shake up at Downing Street: Simon Lewis

Lewis said the shake-up, which will be complete by July 1, makes strategic sense and would achieve staff cost savings of at least 10 per cent.

As a result Vickie Sheriff, who was made Number 10's head of news late last year, will become the single head of news across both Downing Street and Cabinet Office operations. Alison Potter-Drake, currently head of news at the Cabinet Office will leave Government.

Mark Flanagan, currently Downing Street's head of strategic and digital comms, will become the overall head of strategic comms and planning for both offices. Emma Thwaite, who is presently head of strategic comms at the Cabinet Office, will report to Flanagan, running the joint strategic comms unit.

Jenny Grey will return as director of comms for the Cabinet Office - where she will report to Gus O'Donnell, the head of the Civil Service - with additional management responsibility for digital. Theresa Critin, as head of digital, will report to Grey.

Emily Hands retains her job as the news supremo concentrating on Afghanistan.

Lewis said there would be a number of efficiencies including the merger of the media monitoring functions of Downing Street and the Cabinet Office.

‘We've been thinking about the new structure for some time,' Lewis told PRWeek. ‘It's an opportunity to achieve strategic efficiencies.'

He said the senior management team, named above, would now go into consultation to see how the resources could best be allocated within the new structure.

All the affected staff are civil servants and will therefore play no role in the Labour Party's imminent election campaign.

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