All about that BEIS – department set to keep name despite Industrial Strategy death knell

Move away from policy plan will not occasion rebrand of department, government claims

Credit: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

The government’s recent decision to move away from the industrial strategy “brand” has sparked speculation that BEIS could soon be getting a rebrand of its own.

Earlier this month, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the government had “decided to mark a departure from the industrial strategy brand”, as he scrapped the Industrial Strategy Council. A subsequent letter confirmed a break with former prime minister Theresa May’s flagship policy for economic growth and innovation.

A government spokesperson has now confirmed that despite the scrapping of the 2017 strategy, there are no plans to change BEIS’s name.

But referring to civil servants in the department, they added that “some of the team will be redeployed to other BEIS priorities”.

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They said that all the department’s staff would continue working on the government’s priorities, including the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, lowering carbon emissions and addressing regional disparities.

In a letter to business leaders last week, Kwarteng and chancellor Rishi Sunak said they were taking the “best elements” of the industrial strategy forward but that they would be absorbed into the Plan for Growth – the government’s new economic and innovation plan.

“In the four years since the industrial strategy was published, the UK’s business and economic environment has changed – we’ve legislated to end our contribution to climate change by 2050, we’re forging a new path outside the European Union and we continue to fight the Covid-19 pandemic,” the spokesperson said. “It’s right that our approach changes too. That’s why our new Plan for Growth sets out the opportunities we’ll seize across the UK to drive economic growth, create jobs and support British industry as we level-up and build back better out of this pandemic.”

Kicking off with a white paper in 2017, the industrial strategy aimed to address “grand challenges” in society such as ageing and the future of mobility, and led to several spin-off “deals” for sectors including the life sciences, nuclear power and artificial intelligence.


Sam Trendall

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