NEWS8 February 2023

UK government breaks up DCMS and Beis; appoints new culture secretary

Brexit Energy Leisure & Arts Media News Public Sector UK

UK – Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, has split up the Departments for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis), with Lucy Frazer replacing Michelle Donelan as culture secretary.

The government has replaced the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) with a new combined Department for Business and Trade, with former international trade secretary Kemi Badenoch replacing Grant Shapps as business secretary.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has been broken up, with a new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology aiming to focus on “turning scientific and technical innovations into practical, appliable solutions to the challenges we face”, according to a government press release.

The government has appointed Michelle Donelan, formerly the culture secretary, as secretary of state in the new department. Donelan, who was appointed as culture secretary in September 2022, will reportedly still be responsible for looking after the UK’s online safety bill, currently passing through parliament.

Lucy Frazer becomes secretary of state for the “streamlined and refocused” Department for Culture, Media and Sport, succeeding Donelan. Frazer was previously minister of state in the Department for Levelling Up.

The government shared few details of what a “streamlined and refocused” DCMS would look like, but dropped the word ‘digital’ from its title. 

Additionally, a new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, run by Grant Shapps, will focus on energy supply security.

Commenting on the decision to split up DCMS, Chris Combemale, chief executive of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA UK), said:

“The DMA welcomes the creation of the ministry Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology. We congratulate Michelle Donelan on her appointment to lead this new department and look forward to working together to achieve technology-led growth for the UK economy.”

“Businesses and the people who power them will be key to supercharging sustainable growth across the UK economy, so it is essential that the government prioritises skills development initiatives to ensure the UK’s workforce can support future innovation and growth.”

Jane Frost, chief executive, Market Research Society, said: “We welcome the additional focus on science, innovation and technology, all of which are core to maintaining our leadership, as a country, in market and social research. We hope that government policy in these areas will reflect the need to support world leading sectors like ours by encouraging investment and reducing unnecessary regulation.”  

Paul Bainsfair, director general, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, said: “The revolving door of culture ministers continues unabated. If anything, it appears to be speeding up, after just five months this time.

“We very much hope Lucy Frazer’s appointment as secretary of state for culture, media and sport, will be a passing of the baton from the hope and promise provided by Michelle Donelan during her short tenure. We look forward to working with Lucy Frazer and her colleagues, and to understanding further detail on how the splitting up of the government’s Beis and DCMS departments into four new portfolios will affect the different areas of our business.”